tree-lined avenue one block south of Main Street in the Old Belleville Historic District sits the Victorian Home Museum. The
home was donated to the St. Clair County Historical Society in 1963 by a
wealthy local woman, Mrs. Henry Lengfelder, and opened in 1968 after the Society raised approximately $50,000 for the
necessary renovation of the building. Morris Dobschutz, a German immigrant
who became a successful businessman in Belleville, built the home in 1866.
Architecturally, the home was built in the Greek Revival style, which
dominated American architecture during the early 19th century because of
its strong associations with classical tradition and democracy and the floor plan is typical of homes of the period with
two rooms on each side of a central hall.
room of the museum features 19th century furnishings, with many of the
pieces being made by
local craftsmen, and most rooms have been arranged to show off collections that
illustrate what each room would have been like in a typical Victorian era
home. On the first floor is the parlor (photo right,) which was used for
formal entertaining, and is furnished with a large rosewood piano, a sofa,
and several chairs. Visitors will notice that the furniture sits much lower to
the floor, as people were much shorter at that time. The dining room is
well furnished with a large walnut drop-leaf table, an American Empire
sideboard of cherry and mahogany, a walnut butler’s desk, and a walnut
dish cupboard that contains many unusual and rare pieces of china. The
library was originally used as a living room for the family but
now contains the historical archives of the Society and a small gift shop. Three huge Victorian
era walnut bookcases, a Lincoln-type walnut desk, and a Renaissance
Revival walnut table with a leather top are features of this room. The
fourth room now provides office space for the Society but has several
paintings of the home as it was in the 19th century and shows how the
property once extended all the way to Main Street and was beautifully
rooms on the second floor have been furnished. A large Renaissance type
bed that was made in France and was awarded a blue ribbon at the Columbian
Exposition in Chicago in 1893 dominates the master bedroom. An ornate
3-piece walnut set, composed of a bed, dresser, and washstand and a
fainting sofa complete the room. The children’s room features a trundle
bed that uses rope strings instead of slats to support a mattress filled with feathers. A
large variety of children’s toys, all of which are made of either metal
or wood, can been seen as well as a unique turn of the century high chair
that doubled as a stroller. The exhibit room (photo right) contains a
number of different artifacts and curiosities from St. Clair County’s past. Perhaps the most unusual are
the wreaths and small displays
made from the hair that women used to collect from their brushes. Rotating displays of
clothing and accessories can be seen on mannequins throughout the museum.
museum is operated by the nonprofit St. Clair County Historical Society
which also uses the home as the Society’s administrative office and as a
research center. Information regarding the Society or using the research
center can be found on
the Society’s website which is listed below.
Victorian Home Museum is an excellent way to experience the lifestyle of a
prosperous Victorian family. The St. Clair County Historical Society also
operates the Emma Kunz House which illustrates the
lifestyle of a typical mid 19th century working class family.
Visiting the Victorian Home
Monday - Friday 10 am to 2 pm
Sunday 2 pm - 4 pm
An admission is charged to visit the Victorian Home
Museum: Adults: $2, Children $1.
Group tours by appointment.
Victorian Home Museum is located one block south of Main Street in the
downtown Belleville area and east
of Illinois Street (IL-159)
N 38 30.758
W 89 58.600
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Learn more about the Belleville area.
- is the official website of the St. Clair County Historical Society
with information on the Victorian Home Museum, the Emma Kunz House,
historical and genealogical research, and other details about the
Society and its activities.