History and Whimsy in Marshall, Illinois
By Joel Sims | September 11th 2019
If you love history or art, there’s no need to travel to Chicago—the small town of Marshall, Illinois is perfect for a weekend retreat. After all, where else can you pose for a selfie with 27 different lion statues? Yes, the county seat for Clark County is not only home of the Marshall High School Lions, but this town is also so proud of its Lion mascot that over two dozen lion statues can be found around town. These fun and whimsical statues were created with the help of the Gas Light Art Colony, a local organization dedicated to promoting art awareness and participation.
Marshall’s impact on the art world extends beyond the Land of Lincoln. During the summer of 2016, over 150 artists from Canada, England, and Australia descended upon the town to create 16 murals, affectionately known as Walldogs. A brochure describing the history, location, and list of hidden items of each Walldog can be picked up at the Chamber of Commerce at 708 Archer Avenue, Marshall, Illinois.
While you are on Archer Avenue, be sure to check out the Archer House, one of several structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This two-story brick building is currently under restoration by its current owner and was named for Marshall’s founder, Col. Wm. B. Archer, the original builder of the house who served in the Illinois Legislature for almost two decades. As one of the oldest hotels in the state, President Abraham Lincoln was a frequent Archer House visitor.
Col. Archer was friends with most of the charter members of The First Congregational Church, located at 202 North 6th Street in Marshall. This particular structure was actually the third building for this growing congregation that was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style and graciously hosted many other religious groups until they were able to secure their own facilities.
Another building with a unique construction style is the D.D. Doll House, which features Gothic Grant Victorian architecture. Built on the ground that was considered the highest between Indianapolis and St. Louis, the house was lived in by the original family for 89 years. The house contains two parlors, four bedrooms, a formal dining room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a winding staircase.
Elshoff House is constructed of Bedford Limestone which the owner, Earl Elshoff, hand-trimmed when the house was first built and who was also heavily involved when additions were done in the 1930s. This house was one of the first in the city to be fully insulated with blown-in rock wool insulation in the early 1940s.
Continuing the tour of historic homes, be sure to see the Lewis House. This limestone structure consists of yellow brick and limestone designed in the Classical Revival style. The significance of this house rests on both its architectural style and its association with one of the early settlers of Clark County. The original owner, John W. Lewis, Sr., moved to Marshall in 1894 and was the town’s mayor in 1901. In addition to being a farmer and livestock auctioneer, he also served in the state’s government as a Representative, a Senator, Speaker of the House, Secretary of Agriculture and finally as Secretary of State.
Another historic home on the register is the Robert Dulaney House, which can be found at 602 N. 7th Street. This house was built as the personal residence of banker and lawyer, Robert L. Dulaney, who felt that his home needed to demonstrate the success of his legal practice. As a result, the Dulaney House is built with the Italianate architecture style in mind and no doubt, Marshall residents were impressed when they were invited over to dance in the home’s second-floor 23’ x 41’ ballroom.
Four generations have resided in the William Shaw House, a home originally built in 1857 that has gone through extensive remodeling in the 150 years since. Still standing, however, are two hitching posts and a hitching ring that was once used by the milk wagon driver to tether his horse when making a delivery. Another family relic has also lovingly been left behind -- the word "Edith" is etched (in a child's handwriting) on the glass of a kitchen window. Edith was one of William Shaw’s five children.
So, whether you are just passing through Marshall or want to make Marshall, Illinois the location of your next home or business, rest assured there is no shortage of history or art in this Southeastern Illinois town. For more information on Marshall, visit www.marshall-il.com or www.marshallilchamber.com.