The Clayson House Museum has a rich collection of artifacts. On arriving at the Museum you will enter a different world, the fabulous world of the Victorian Age! Enter the parlor and see someone about to play the grand piano. A life-like manikin is on the left. Enjoy the luster of the mantelpiece. Marvel at the furniture, how different it is from our own age.
Our furniture collection fills the rooms of the house and almost all of it is antique Victorian. Many pieces have been donated by Palatine residents and others have been purchased to round out the decor of the rooms. The parlor’s main style of furnishings is rococo revival from the 1860’s. We also have Eastlake pieces in the sitting room and main bedroom from the 1870’s.
Upright Grand Piano
Technology has changed so many chores in the kitchen! No longer do we churn the butter, buy ice for the icebox or light a coal stove for the big family dinner.
Our collection of kitchen artifacts is a favorite of many visitors including our school children. They are amazed at the heavy cast irons, love the corn popper, and are mystified by the toaster sitting on the stove. The apple peeler demonstrates the clever inventions of the Victorians while the glass baby bottles make us wonder. Have you ever used lye soap or a washboard? Cleaned rugs with a rug beater or boiled your underwear on top of the stove? We have all these things and more for you to ponder.
We have a large collection of Victorian & Edwardian women’s and children’s clothing and accessories. In addition there are a few pieces of men’s clothes and accessories. We generally do not take pieces from other time periods with two exceptions. We do take wedding dresses from Palatine residents of any period. We also take uniforms worn by local residents.
This collection is not open to display, but there are always a few changing items on our family of mannequins around the house. It is printed in our by-laws that these clothes cannot be worn by humans. We have other textiles in our collection including quilts, blankets, table linens, and bed linens.
Plaid Silk Taffeta Dress
Most of the children’s collection is in the children’s bedroom upstairs. We have many toys from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. There are several boys’ iron toys like this one. We also have dolls and doll dishes for the girls. There are a few books in the room as well as some board games. Even some roller skates and ice skates. Do you know what aggies are? Come and find them in this room.
Toy Buggy & Doll
Enter the Francis Regan Archive Room and notice the tall hand-made book cases. We enjoy an extensive collection of books.
Books in our library cannot be checked out. They may be read in the library during museum hours and a page or two can be copied by machine. Books are shelved by the Dewey Decimal system and there is a card catalog. Some of the types of books available are high school year books from Palatine and Fremd, very old school text books, recently printed books of local history of Palatine and some surrounding towns, and much more.
"Images of America" from the Clayson Book Collection
Archival Material Collection
The Archive Room also stores many files of archival material. We have Palatine Township censuses from 1850 to 1930. There are cemetery books, agricultural census books, an obituary file, village and township meeting ledgers, and church records from St Paul, St. John, and the Methodist Church to name a few.
These are available for research and there is always someone there to help you find these materials as well as others.
Cabinets in the Archive Room house thousands of precious photographs documenting our history.
We have just begun to digitize the collection. Some of these photos are on this website. We will be adding more pictures to this area.
C&NW Railroad Section Gang
The display room showcases many early maps.
There are several different local maps from different time periods. One of these is on the wall of this room and others are in the folding glass panel case on another wall. The library also holds a few maps such as an aerial one of downtown Palatine and a map of Deer Grove Forest Preserve when it was first opened in 1916. Did you know that Deer Grove is the oldest forest preserve in Cook County?
Volunteers Bev Keagle and Nancy Cairns have been accessioning the many maps that we have collected and preserved over the years.