Kimberly Obrien’s Gurnee History Blog: The Mother Rudd Home
I’ve lived in Warren Township, a small hamlet outside Chicago, Illinois, for my whole life. But I’ve never really knew much about our famous landmark, The Mother Rudd Home, until a recent visit.
“Mother Rudd” (born Wealthy Buell in 1793) and her husband Jonathan Harvey moved to Warren Township in 1843 with their 13 children. In 1844, they built the building that became known as the Mother Rudd Tavern after Jonathan died and Wealthy became the wife of Eratus Rudd in 1846.
This two-story frame house is the oldest building in Warren Township. It served as a stagecoach stop for travelers at the half-way point between Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin – then a five-day trip! It was also the town hall, voting site, post office, and dance hall. The barn in back of the house was believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, the network of secret safe houses used by 19th-century slaves to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists working to abolish the abuse of slavery.
When Wealthy Rudd died in August of 1880 at the age of 87, her daughter Nancy reopened the tavern and maintained it until she died in 1894 at the age of 74. The building was thereafter owned by various parties as a single-family farm until the Village of Gurnee purchased the property in 1984 to be restored and preserved as a historical site. It is now Warren Township Historical Society’s museum.
Thanks to the restoration work, this building is a treasure trove of area history. We were able to view the kitchen and a bedroom, done up in styling appropriate to the period. Also on display are artifacts from the Civil War and historic photographs of Gurnee. Check it out if you’re in the area: 4690 Old Grande Ave, Gurnee. Even from downtown Chicago’s Gold Coast, it’s less than an hour away!