Monday, May 18, 2009

Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket

On April 25 of this year, we finally visited a place we've wanted to go for years: Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, IL.
So many times we've driven past the billboards and signs on our way to and from places, but were never hungry when we were in the neighborhood.
Well known for fried chicken for more than 60 years, Dell Rhea's has had its ups and downs due to Route 66 bypassing the restaurant in the 60s, but has stood the test of time.
The Chicken Basket was inducted in the Route 66 Hall of Fame in June of 1992 and The National Register of Historic Places in May of 2006.
We stopped by the bar side first because we weren't starving yet. Our Dining Companion and I tried a local beer, the Route 66 Roadhouse Red Ale. It was not my thing and I ended up replacing it with a Pabst, but she ended up finishing it. My husband had a Pabst and our brother-in-law enjoyed a soda.
We soon cut through the back of the bar, checking out some framed newspaper articles along the way, to the dining room and took a table.
The large, angled windows across the front of the restaurant reminded me of some of the neat old buildings at Indiana Beach or York Beach in Maine, with a vacationy/nautical feel.
A large stone wall with a fireplace graced the end of the dining room, and old wooden chairs graced the tables. Some of them had a schoolhouse look to them, which added to the charm.
I had to try the corn fritters, so we placed our appetizer order for those. When they arrived, they were warm, sweet and good, but I can't say they were the best I've ever had.
For our dinners, we all chose baskets of chicken, which came with fries, slaw and biscuits.
The stars here were the chicken (juicy and good, with a cornmeal-like coating) and the biscuits (tiny and delicious). Dining Companion and I decided that since they were so small, you didn't need to feel bad about eating tons of them.
Our waitress was very cheerful and joked about giving us piggy back rides back to our car, since our bellies were so full.
The dining room kept up a steady business the whole time we were there, and closer to 6:00 people were standing along the back of the room waiting for tables.
Several large groups were having what appeared to be traditional family dinner meetups in the dining room, and Dell Rhea's is certainly a great place for that.

Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket
645 Joliet Road
I-55 & Route 83
Willowbrook, Illinois 60527

Pioneer Gothic Church

Once I found out that Dwight, Illinois is home to a rare wood framed Carpenter Gothic church, I was determined to track it down and have a look.
We visited the site on April 12, 2009.
This church was built by a Presbyterian congregation in the later 1850s in Carpenter Gothic style, a North American architectural designation for an application of Gothic Revival details applied to wooden structures built by house carpenters.
With wood being scarce, and the added threat of fire in prairie regions, this type of architecture was not common to Illinois.
The Pioneer Gothic Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Pioneer Gothic Church
201 N Franklin Street
Dwight, IL 60420

Monday, May 4, 2009

Standard Oil Gas Station

Built in 1932, the Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois was modeled after a 1916 Standard Oil of Ohio design, in the house and canopy style.
The work bays were added at a later date.
At least nine other stations besides this one lined this part of Route 66 through Odell.
In the late 1990s, the Village of Odell purchased the station for historic restoration. The Route 66 Association of Illinois took interest in the project and nominated the property for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, which was granted on November 9, 1997.
A bypass was constructed around Odell in 1946, and traffic was directed around the strip that held the gas stations so businesses started to disappear. This station persisted until 1967, largely because it offered services as well as gasoline.

We've driven by this nicely preserved station many times, and took this photo on April 12, 2009.
We also visited in October of 2006 and found a geocache hidden on the property.

Standard Oil Gasoline Station
400 S West Street
Odell, IL