EUREKA, Ill. — The world knows him as an actor, broadcaster, governor and of course, the 40th president of the United States. But in Illinois, many know Ronald Reagan as a native son.
This week’s Destination Illinois takes travelers to Woodford County, home of the president’s alma mater: Eureka College.
“He always said everything good in my life began here at Eureka College,” Shellie Schwanke said.
Ronald Reagan, Eureka College’s most famous alum, graduated in 1932. He grew up poor and seemingly always on the move with his family. So, it’s fitting the place that gave him so much opportunity is home to a permanent museum.
The museum opened in 1994, but Reagan began sending the college memorabilia in 1975. It now has more than 2,000 items from his days as a student, entertainer and politician.
Reagan came back to campus 14 times including three as President. In 1982, 50 years after he graduated, he gave the commencement speech.
As a student, he was an actor, swimmer, football player and student body president.
Outside is the Reagan Peace Garden. In the middle is a bronze bust of the president on a pedestal, with quotes from a famous speech he gave at the college in 1982.
A unique piece of history is just feet away: a chunk of the Berlin Wall which the president famously challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down is something you can’t miss.