The oldest house in Lombard (formerly Babcock’s Grove) was originally home to well known folk artist Sheldon Peck, who helped many people traveling to freedom via the Underground Railroad. The clapboard house, built by Peck in 1839, gave shelter to Freedom Seekers throughout the 1850s.
The self-taught portraitist was publicly known to be a radical abolitionist. He held several anti-slavery meetings in the homestead and worked for the Western Citizen, an abolitionist newspaper published in Chicago.
His son Frank wrote in his memoirs about a man called Old Charley, a formerly enslaved man who spent some time at the house. A portrait made by his daughter Susan is alleged to have been Old Charley. Frank, who wrote, “our home was used as headquarters for all opponents of slavery in this part of the country,” recalls times when as many as seven formerly enslaved people stayed at the homestead (probably in the barn) while they made their way north.
The family owned the house well into the 1990s. It was turned into a public museum in 1999. In 2011, the National Park Service inducted the house into the Network to Freedom, a list of verified Underground Railroad locations.
Know Before You Go
Located on the south west corner of Parkside and Grace Street, directly west of Lombard Common Park and Paradise Bay