packs a lot of punch for its size — with a handful of antique
shops, restaurants, a covered bridge, outdoor activities and a
history museum. It’s a wonderful place to shop and have lunch if
you’re on your way to Champaign, but it’s also worth the drive
just for an afternoon getaway. Granted, there probably isn’t
enough to keep you occupied for a weekend trip or even a long day,
but it’s a perfect place to spend the afternoon. It’s the
perfect antidote for stressful living. If you yearn for a place from
the past where there is no hustle and bustle, the people are
friendly, the pace is a little slower, and the homemade pies are
fresh out of the oven — this is your place.
calendar of events
March — Spring open house in shops on Main Street
— Chamber of Commerce Community Action
June — Mahomet Festival with rides and special events
of July — Freedom Fest, activities and fireworks at Lake
of the Woods County Park
— Sangamon River Music Festival
— Harvest Fest and Scarecrow Contest
— Old-fashioned Christmas Walk, Main Street
in 1832 on the banks of the Sangamon River, Mahomet is the oldest
community in Champaign County. Now a rural residential community
with thriving business areas, Mahomet was originally called
Middletown because of its location halfway between Bloomington and
Danville. Sometime during the 1840s or 1850s, people discovered
there were two Middletowns in Illinois — the other in Logan
County. The history books claim the name Mahomet was arbitrarily
assigned in Washington, D.C. to the former Middletown’s post
and timber were the natural resources which drew early settlers —
from Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky — to the
area. Before the settlers came, the Kickapoo and Pottawattamie
Indian tribes inhabited the land.
has grown by leaps and bounds during the past five decades, helped
in part because of its proximity to Champaign and the University of
Illinois. The village grew from a population of 1,986 in 1980 to
3,103 in 1990, and the projected population for 2000 is 5,620.
the Woods/Early American Museum/Botanical garden
of the most beautiful features of the Mahomet area is Lake of the
Woods Park. Located among rolling and wooded hills, it’s a nice
contrast to the surrounding flat farmland. This popular park
occupies almost 900 acres along the corridor of the Sangamon River.
park features a popular 18-hole regulation golf course; a nine-hole,
par-3 course and practice range; a swimming beach; fishing; boating;
boat rentals; hiking; picnicking; cross-country skiing; sledding; a
Hi-Tower bell carillon and observation area; the Early American
Museum; and Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens.
nice way to see the park is by taking a walk or bike ride along the
new 3.3-mile pedestrian path. Don’t miss the two beautiful bridges
— a rustic covered bridge which stretches across the Sangamon
River and a footbridge connecting the swimming area and boat dock.
The footbridge is an exact replica, built to one-twentieth scale, of
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The brick high-tower
observation area gives a great view of the landscape. The tower is
one of the most impressive and recognizable features in the park.
For three decades, visitors have climbed the six-story structure,
named after the founder of the forest preserve district, the late
you get a little exercise and a healthy dose of nature, make a visit
to the Early American Museum, also located in the forest preserve.
Housed on two floors are interpretive exhibits detailing 19th and
early 20th century life in east-central Illinois and the Midwest.
Exhibits offer a glimpse of architecture, agriculture, trades and
occupations, decorative arts, and childhood and domestic life of the
past. The Discovery Room offers hands-on opportunities for children
and includes a Civil War tent, an 1830s general store, games and
botanical garden is a delight for the senses. Currently under
construction is a new enabling garden in the Mabery Gelvin Botanical
Gardens. When completed, it will feature a small footbridge, a
series of raised planters providing accessible gardening space, a
mixed border of shrubs and perennials, native grasses, a shaded
arbor, and a waterfall. The features of the garden include raised
beds to make gardening easier for people in wheelchairs and the
elderly who have limited mobility and have difficulty dealing with
gardening at ground level; sensory features, such as fragrant herbs
and flowers and falling water; shade; and accessible surfaces for
Chicago Botanical Garden has supported the development of the garden
as the first of its kind in central Illinois and held its 1999
spring symposium on horticultural therapy at the forest preserve in
honor of the proposed garden project.
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column in this article]
employers: District 3 Community School, Roberson
Transportation Company, Carle Clinic, Busey Bank of Mahomet,
Urban Sand and Gravel, Mid America Sand and Gravel, and
Western Champaign County, approximately 1 hour from Lincoln.
Take Route 10 through Clinton to I-72 E, IL-47 Exit 73
of motels: 5
of restaurants: 10
are 11 unique shops in town, offering everything from English jams
and pewter jewelry to primitive furniture and nature books.
of the antique shops are located on Main Street in a one-block area.
One of my favorites is Willow Tree Antiques, located at 421 E. Main.
Not only is this shop housed in a wonderful old building, but it
offers unique architectural pieces; walnut, mahogany, oak, pine and
cherry furniture; pottery; tin ceiling tiles; glassware; china;
silver; linens; and textiles. On a recent visit, there were huge
sections of a salvaged tin ceiling hanging on the brick walls, a
green leather art deco bar, and a vintage red-and-white quilt for
sale. The upscale country and Victorian furniture shop also does
House, located at 408 E. Main St., offers not only antiques but also
stained glass supplies and artwork, and many gift items, from
picture frames and clocks to teapots and jewelry.
stores worth visiting are Earth Sight, a shop filled with nature and
science games, toys, jewelry, and other items; Carolyn Kay’s,
filled with Victorian-style gifts and food items such as flavored
pastas, sauces and gourmet candy; and Main Street Mercantile, housed
in a 300-square-foot historic 1896 gallery of early country
primitive antiques, cabin collectibles, antiques, Christmas items,
wool blankets, twig furniture and painted furniture.
shops include The Framery, which provides custom picture framing and
sells artwork by local and national artists; Harold Ponder’s
rocking rooster, a cane shop which sells antiques; and Iron Horse
Antiques, which sells antiques, collectibles, pedal cars and antique
I love antiques, I love gardening even more. So I am very glad I
discovered Mourning Dove Farms, my favorite shop in Mahomet. Tucked
away on a slight slope on the east edge of town on Route 150, this
is the place to go for ideas and inspiration for both decorating and
gardening. The business prides itself on offering the unusual plants
and garden essentials, and it accomplishes both goals. The shop is
filled to the brim with an array of topiaries, large-leafed ivies,
candles, crystal, garden tools, pottery, original watercolors by
local artists and other gift items. An outside area is full of
concrete urns and stone containers. The business also sponsors
popular garden trips and is currently planning a 12-day tour of the
gardens, historic castles and the Hampton Court Flower Show in
England this summer. The business sponsored a two-day trip to the
Cincinnati Flower Shop last spring.
English Hedgerow, located on Main Street, is another favorite stop.
This quaint flower shop is filled with a changing selection of fresh
flowers from around the world. Owner Helen Philpott, a native of
Sussex, England, makes original floral designs in the traditional
English style of Constance Spry, the floral designer for the wedding
Queen Elizabeth II. The shop also specializes in traditional English
hand-painted metal house signs made in its own foundry. The shop
also offers British imports, such as walking sticks; Dartington
crystal; fortnum and Mason and Beatrix Potter pewter jewelry and
picture frames; original artwork; Vera Bradley handbags and luggage;
scented, beeswax and hand-dipped candles; garden pots; and English
jams and candy.
sure and take a break from shopping to have lunch. I highly
recommend stopping at The Seatery, located in a very old building on
the corner of Main Street. The building, with creaky old wooden
floors and a painted tin ceiling, is part antique shop, part
clothing store and part old-fashioned soda fountain. The decor — a
funky blend of old Formica tables, stacked suitcases, wooden chairs
and modern art — resembles discarded family furniture. There’s
even a green toilet just casually placed along one wall, across the
room from hand-painted silk scarves for sale. But it’s the food
that keeps customers coming back. Local business shop owners, high
school students and tourists of all ages gobble down the homemade
blackberry cobbler, root beer floats and sandwich plates. On a
recent cold, wintry day, my mom and I enjoyed chicken noodle soup
and blackberry cobbler with ice cream.
good option for food is the Pickle Tree Farm, a renovated New
England post-and-beam barn located on Prairieview Road that offers
shopping and eating under one roof. Candles, soaps, gifts and
clothing are for sale, alongside homemade pies, deli sandwiches, ice
cream and jams, mustards, sauces, and of course, pickles. Try the
Pickle Tree deli sub, with salami, lean roast beef and turkey,
served on a corn-dusted, fresh-baked roll with Swiss cheese, tomato,
lettuce and mustard. All the sandwiches are tasty, and the dessert
case, filled with brownies and pecan pies in the morning, is usually
empty at the end of the day.