Built before the Civil War, the Reddick Mansion has been known to be one of the most expensive and ornate Italianate residences ever constructed in the Midwest during the mid 1800’s. Few other pre-Civil War homes in Illinois compare to architectural quality or complexity to the Reddick Mansion. The ornamental plaster cornices and ceiling medallions, marble fireplaces and woodwork throughout the mansion cannot be matched in beauty or craftsmanship. They have been reported to be among the finest found anywhere in Illinois in the 1800’s.
The Reddick Mansion lot was located on the eastern half of Block 56 of States Addition to the city of Ottawa. Today, this land area is bordered on the north by Washington Street, on the east by Columbus Street, and on the south by Lafayette Street. A city alley is the western border of the original Reddick Mansion lot. The land area measured roughly 300' x 150'. Within this 45,000 square foot area sat at least five buildings: a frame house in the northeast corner near the intersection of Washington and Columbus; a carriage house in the northwest corner bordering the alley; a large horse barn south of the carriage house, also bordering the alley; a medium-sized brick structure which may have originally been used as a detached kitchen but later as the caretaker's home (only structure still existing, besides the Mansion, itself); and the Mansion which dominated the southeast corner of the Reddick city property.
The twenty-two room mansion was designed for the William Reddick family by two prominent midwestern architects, William B.Olmsted and Peter A. Nicholson. Construction began in the spring of the 1856 and it is reported the house probably cost about $25,000. The monumental structure stands fifty feet in height and measures fifty-five by sixty-four feet. Colorful contrasts of cream Lemont Limestone and a rich red brick give the exterior a unique appearance in comparison to other Italianate homes.
The original fence which bordered the Mansion lot was very simple in design and was likely built of wood. A photo of the Mansion, dated ca. 1866, shows both a "anti - splatter" fence (painted white) on the berm as well as the Mansion lot fence (smaller in height and of a dark color).
The only original structure besides the Mansion, itself, is the smaller two story brick structure that is west of the Mansion. Debate continues as to the original function of this building, as it may have been designed as a detached kitchen and/or smoke house. What is certain about the structure is that windows were retrofitted on the second floor of the sturcture when it was used as a home for the caretaker. At present, the building is the home of Ottawa's Visitor Center.
Though not one of the physical structures still in existence on the Mansion property, the Eliza Jane Reddick Herb Garden deserves mention. This living tribute (no pun intended) was created in 1995 and is maintained by the Ottawa Garden Club. For a complete description of its layout, click here.
Three of the five original structures no longer exist. All were located on the northern portion of the original lot. These demolished structures included the fore mentioned frame house, brick carriage house, and brick horse barn. Photos of these original buildings can be seen, below. In addition, the Mansion and two outbuildings (smoke-house and south side of the barn) can be seen in this panoramic view (ca. 1910) of the area.
|From left to right: corner of horse barn, carriage house, and corner of frame home.|
|From left to right: horse barn, and portion of carriage house|