Ronald Reagan loved his home town of Dixon, Illinois. In the early 80′s President Reagan made one of his return visits to Dixon. The townspeople had begun to restore Reagan’s boyhood home on Hennepin Avenue.
Noting a need for assistance, Mr. Reagan called his close personal friend, Norm Wymbs, and asked him to help the folks of Dixon restore his boyhood home. Norm arrived in Dixon and completed the task of restoring the home to match the date in history when “Dutch” was a boy.
As Mr. Wymbs finalized the Reagan home project, the South Central School building, where Dutch attended 6th and 7th grades, was falling into disrepair and had not been occupied for some years. Built in 1908, the school system could no longer support the old building. Norm was offered, and purchased, the building and grounds for $500.
Being a visionary, author and entrepreneur, Mr. Wymbs generated ambitious ideas for utilizing the old school. Over several years he assembled a crew and began to turn his ideas into reality. The roof and all of the windows were replaced. An elevator and handicapped access were added. Walls, ceilings and woodwork were replaced or restored to match the period. The original floors were retained and brought to like-new condition.
On another visit to his childhood school building, Mr. Reagan pointed out the room in which he had sixth grade class. He also offered Mr. Wymbs some of his Dixon and presidential memorabilia. The crew, headed by Bill Jones, did a wonderful job of restoring the classroom to original condition and establishing the extremely interesting Reagan History Room.
With the addition of the fantastic Native American/Black Hawk War and Early American Farming exhibits, Norm’s ideas are coming together. Ronald Reagan’s restored sixth grade classroom and the Reagan History Room joins the Auditorium, the Surround-Sound Theater and the Museum Store as significant spaces to tour, learn from and enjoy.
Today, elementary tour Reagan history and learn to appreciate the Native American’s struggle to keep their land and the hard work it took for early farmer’s to thrive in a new land. The Center introduced the United States Postal Service’s Reagan postage stamp in 2004 and again in 2011. The Center hosts meetings and presentations in the auditorium.