By Jessica Mozo
In years gone by, the noon whistle that blows every day in Geneseo signaled time to close up shop for lunch. Today, it continues to blow every day at noon as a reminder of simpler times, though that lifestyle still exists in this picturesque town reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Located in Henry County about 20 miles east of the Quad Cities, Geneseo has a population of 6,500. It is known as a City of Churches, with 18 churches and many faiths represented. Geneseo also is known for two of its largest employers, Springfield Armory and Wyffels Hybrids Seed Corn. Springfield Armory is one of the world’s best-known names in firearms, and Wyffels is known widely in the seed corn industry.
Geneseo Historical Attractions
Settled in 1836 by eight families from Genessee County, N.Y., Geneseo attracts visitors in part because of its gorgeous restored Victorian homes and tree-lined streets, which have earned it the nickname “the Maple City.” Fall serves as the best time to visit, when the city’s maple trees create a dazzling display of color.
During the Christmas season, Geneseo celebrates its Victorian heritage with a downtown Christmas Walk featuring living windows depicting Christmases past. The history of Geneseo also comes to life at the Geneseo Historical Museum, housed in an elegant white brick home on State Street.
Geneseo Parks and Theater
The Geneseo Community Park District has more facilities than you’d expect for a town of 6,500. Spend some time at the active Community Center, Senior Citizen Center, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, baseball and softball diamonds, and the beautiful Anderson Memorial Park. The Park District also maintains the historic downtown Central Theater, which shows first-rate movies several days a week.
Love live theater? Don’t miss the Richmond Hill Players, a local group of actors who produce sold-out plays in a renovated dairy barn.
Searching for a one-of-a-kind souvenir in Geneseo? Head downtown, and you’ll discover locally owned shops toting clothing, home furnishings, furniture, antiques and gifts. C&S Antique Mall is a destination for treasure hunters, with its two levels of glassware, furniture, jewelry, books and memorabilia. The friendly owners even greet customers with fresh coffee and desserts.
Pegasus Fine Gifts is another fun place to shop and quench your thirst. It is known for its fabulous handmade fudge, specialty coffees and smoothies, Christmas items year-round, gifts and accessories. Quilting and sewing enthusiasts shouldn’t miss Quilts-N-Blooms, which carries a large selection of fabrics and attracts shoppers from all over Illinois.
Trains, Planes & Automobiles
Pack up the family and make a day trip to Geneseo for the annual Trains, Planes & Automobiles Festival the weekend after Labor Day. Slated for September 6-8, 2012, the downtown festival includes authentic steam train rides, a Stearman Fly-In lunch and aerobatics show, golf cart tours, a car show, children’s activities, a model train display, flyovers and a tribute to veterans.
Also in September is Geneseo’s Annual Antique Engine & Tractor Working Farm Show. It happens Sept. 14-16 at the Antique Engine & Tractor Association’s 50-acre show grounds on state Highway 92.
Richmond Hill Barn Theatre
Geneseo Community Center
Geneseo Historical Museum
Trains, Planes & Automobiles Festival
Pegasus Fine Gifts
Lavender Crest Winery
10-Sided Round Barn
10 Great Eats in Geneseo
The Cellar Restaurant
Victorian Manor Restaurant
Danny Boy’s Pizza & More
Lavender Crest Winery
Roy’s Taco House
Geneseo Donut Inc.
La Roma Pizza House
Sweet Peas Grill
Leamen’s Bar & Grill
Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream