the early 1850s two railroad surveyors, James
Spencer and T.C. Myer set up camp in a
clear prairie in Central Illinois. Within a few
years, the railroad was built and when the first
Alton and Sangamon (later the
through from Chicago to St. Louis in 1854.
At the time, there were just two small wood
buildings and a water tank. The station was
given the name, West New York. Richard P.
Morgan, another survey engineer, was asked to
give the place a name, he suggested Dwight,
after Henry Dwight of New York who had heavily
invested into the building of the railroad.
During this period, railroad
stops typically evolved into towns, and Dwight was no
different. Morgan built the first mill in 1859 and
donated the land for the Presbyterian Church.
David McWilliams built a store in the downtown area, and
was a success from it's beginning. He would go on
to help build the first school in town and opened the
town’s first bank, which would go on to become the Bank
In 1879, Dr. Leslie Keeley opened
the Keeley Institute, which was the first
medical institution to treat alcoholism as a
disease. By the turn of the century, Keeley
Institutes were located in nearly every state in the
nation and many overseas.
in 1900, and his partner and friend,
John R. Oughton, became
president of the corporation. Oughton renovated a
building that was used as the Keeley Club House and
adding to it, made it his home, known as “The Manse.”
The Keeley Institute
continued to operate until 1966 when hospitals began to
deal with the disease of alcoholism. Today the building
houses the Fox Developmental Center.
made its way through the county, and Dwight was in its
path. Dwight's downtown was by-passed, and the
towns businesses migrated their way to the Mother
1933 was Ambler’s Texaco Station, which later became The
Marathon Oil Station serviced travelers until 1998.
The building has been renovated and is now a visitor's
and information center.
Railroad Depot, built in 1891, served for a time as the
Village Hall, and is now home to the
Historical Society and the Chamber of Commerce. Placed on
the National Register of Historic Places in 1982,
the Depot is one of only a few stations between
Chicago & St. Louis featuring architectural design
of the 1890's. Designed by Henry Ives Cobb, it
was originally the Alton Railroad Depot.
the street from the Depot, sits the First National
Bank of Dwight, designed by Architect
Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905.
building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Prairie Creek Public
Library, housed in the old Oughton carriage house, The
Country Mansion, the Pioneer Gothic Church, and the
1896 to supply water to the Oughton Estate and grounds -
now owned by the Village - are all also on the National
Register of Historic Places.
The Village of Dwight
209 S. Prairie Ave
Dwight, Illinois 60420
Fax 815-584-2680DWIGHT PD - NON