Lights, Camera, Action!

Kankakee is not famous for their contribution to film. I remember hearing a rumor that Tom Hanks was coming to Momence to film a movie when I was about 6 or 7. At the time I did not know who Tom Hanks was, so I didn’t know why people cared. There have actually been quite a few movies filmed in the Kankakee area, and a couple episodes of television, too! Almost all of these are only partly filmed in Kankakee, but it is still pretty cool that Kankakee has a small presence, but a presence nonetheless, on the big screen.

Movies (in chronological order)

the hunterThe Hunter, 1980

This Steve McQueen film followed a bounty hunter, Ralph “Papa” Thorson. Quite a few scenes were filmed in Kankakee County, including Bonfield, Herscher, Kankakee, and Manteno. Some specific scenes filmed include a payphone scene in Bonfield, the capture of Tommy Price in Herscher, and a car chase through Manteno.


  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, 1987

The bus station interior was filmed at the Wilmington bus station. John Hughes wanted the train station to be filmed in Kankakee. Part of the crew waited in Kankakee for a week, but the weather did not get cold enough to snow. Instead, the scenes were shot in an abandoned warehouse.

childs play

Child’s Play (Chucky), 1988

A portion of this horror movie was filmed at the Shapiro Developmental Center on January 28 and 29, 1988. The Shapiro Developmental Center used to be the Kankakee State Hospital, and before that the Illinois Eastern Hospital for the Insane.

road to perdition2

Road to Perdition, 2002

Tom Hanks and Paul Newman filmed parts of this movie in Kankakee and Will Counties, specifically in Momence. Most of the bank-robbing scenes, as well as a couple others, were filmed here.




road to perdition

A scene from Road to Perdition filmed in Momence.

public enemies

Public Enemies, 2009

Johnny Depp starred in this gangster film about John Dillinger, a bank robber. The movie was partly filmed in St. Anne in 2008, including scenes with Johnny Depp.




Johnny Depp outside of St. Anne high school. (Picture from the Daily Journal)

The Unborn, 2009

Gary Oldman starred in this horror movie, which also included scenes from the Shapiro Developmental Center.

unborn kankakee

A scene from The Unborn filmed in Kankakee.

knight and day

Knight and Day, 2010

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz starred in this 2010 movie, partially filmed in Kankakee.

sinister 2

Sinister 2, 2015

This horror movie sequel was partly filmed in Kankakee, Grant Park, and St. Anne. The Daily Journal had an article asking for extras to take part in the movie.

Television Shows

Mission Terror

mission terror2

The Manteno State Hospital was featured on 3 episodes of Mission Terror. The crew only spent 47 minutes inside before running out. Two years later, another episode was filmed to see if the crew could last more than 47 minutes.They lasted just over an hour, and came back in 2015 to try and stay even longer.


mission terror

The hosts walk through the Manteno State Hospital

Modern Marvel

modern marvelA Momence man was filmed in 2002 due to his James Bond Collection. The episode, called “James Bond Gadgets” was aired on December 2, 2002. His collection includes over 6,000 items and includes a Q-Boat, a minisub, and a chase boat from the James Bond movies.modern marvel2


As you can see, Kankakee County does have a little bit of film history, even if it does include mostly gangster or horror movies.


You Learn Something Every Day:

On March 4, 1881, Kankakee became the 16th city in Illinois to be given a telephone license. 48 telephones were installed in the first year, and by April 1882 a 12-mile telephone toll line connected Kankakee, Grant Park, Exline, Chebanse, Irwin, Herscher, and Cabery.


Feel free to leave comments and/or questions! I’d love to know what you think of the posts, the blog, or anything you would like to see in future posts!:)

A Day in My Life

For this post, I thought I would share a little bit about what I do during my time at the museum. Although every day is different (which is one of my favorite things about it!), I have been working on a few big projects. I try to be here most days either from 10-4 or 1-4 on the days I work at my other job at Olivet’s library.

My day usually starts with a cup of coffee. I live about a half hour away from the museum and I always have to bring my coffee thermos with me. 🙂coffee.pngOnce I get to the museum, I check in with most of the staff and get a feel for what the day may bring or if there are some big projects to work on. If there is, I get right to work on those.

projectorI have been working with a couple different staff members, so projects vary. I may be working through the archive rooms or working in our photo room. For a couple of days, I organized and viewed slides for projection shows. They were fun to go through, and there were a lot of random places! There were quite a few of Kankakee slidesCounty, with buildings and places that I recognized instantly, but a lot were from all over the world. I saw slides from Europe, Australia, and all over the United States. You could travel around the world from Kankakee!

If there is not any big project that I am working on, I work in the office in the back working on a couple of different things. Lately, I have been working on the blog, usually researching, writing, and proofreading. I have not really IMG_1062blogged before, but I am really enjoying it and getting the hang of it more every time.

I have also been working on some virtual exhibits found on the website. (Check them out here!) These virtual exhibits are shortened histories of different topics. Right now, the website has 3: Myers Bakery, Kankakee’s First Courthouse, and Music of the Civil War. If I have extra time, I work on researching different topics. Hopefully some will be up soon and you can read them!



I usually end my day by stopping at Dunkin’ Donuts. 4:00 is right in the middle of happy hour, and it is on my way home, so it’s hard for me to pass up!1280px-dunkin_donuts_logo-svg

No day is ever the same (well, maybe except the coffee), but as I said earlier, it is one of my favorite things about the museum. Every day is unique and that makes it all the more interesting.

You Learn Something Every Day:

When the famed Hotel Riverview in Kankakee burned down in 1897, there were no fatalities of the 40 guests/tenants and 25 staff members. R.D. Goodwin, a railroad clerk, had the only injury. He slept through the fire alarms and awoke to find he could not get out of his room due to the smoke and flames. He barged into the next room but still could not get out. Goodwin started throwing mattresses out of the window. He jumped out and rebounded off the mattresses onto the stone foundation. He was taken to the hospital, but only had a little bruising on his back and shoulders.

Hotel Riverview

The remains of the Hotel Riverview in 1897.


Feel free to leave comments and/or questions! I’d love to know what you think of the posts, the blog, or anything you would like to see in future posts! 🙂


Presidential Pop-Ins


When 2016 came we knew it would for sure bring two things: An extra day in February and a presidential election. We see enough comments about the election coming up, so I am not going to say too much on that subject. However, since we just celebrated the 4th of July and the election is coming up soon, I decided to use this blog to talk about the different presidents that have visited Kankakee County (it’s more than you think!). I am going to include those who visited either before or after they became president, but not those who were running for President but lost.



McKinley’s campaign poster

William McKinley: McKinley was president from 1898-1901. He visited Kankakee twice, once on November 1, 1894 while he was campaigning for governor of Ohio and on October 15, 1898 while he was president. During his 1898 visit, he arrived at the Illinois Central station at 8 pm on Saturday. There were about 5,000 people in attendance for the non-partisan event. McKinley gave a speech about his earlier visit, Illinois’ role in the Civil War, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates. His speech was cut off short; the train started rolling away while he was still talking. After his assassination in 1901, Kankakee held a memorial service on the courthouse lawn with 5,000 attendees.


Teddy Roosevelt hunting

Teddy Roosevelt in his hunting gear

Teddy Roosevelt: Although there is not a definitive time or mention when Teddy Roosevelt was in Kankakee County, he was known for hunting along the Kankakee River. He, along with Grover Cleveland, would hunt at the White House Hunting Club, located in Lake County, Indiana. However, there have been rumors that Roosevelt went further down the river into Kankakee County.


William Taft: Taft was known to go boating on the Kankakee River. Taft won Kankakee County’s votes both times he ran, although he only won the presidency for the first term.


Warren Harding: Harding campaigned in Kankakee in 1920. He would later win both the county and the country.


Eisenhower breakfast

President Eisenhower eating breakfast in Kankakee

Dwight D. Eisenhower: Eisenhower visited Kankakee County in 1962 on a parade route. About 25,000 people stood along 10 miles of the route to see him.


Richard Nixon: Nixon visited Kankakee County in 1956 while he was vice-president to Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Gerald Ford: Ford became the last sitting president to visit Kankakee County. He would win the county, but not the election.


Ronald Reagan: Reagan visited both Kankakee County and Will County in 1976 while campaigning for the Republican nomination against Gerald Ford. Reagan spoke to 600 people at a breakfast speech at the Holiday Inn in Bradley on February 13, 1976. He spoke about gun control measures, said that Illinois “holds the world record” for professional welfarists, promised a balanced budget and said he’d stop inflation. Overall, his speech had 13 interruptions of applause. Reagan later lost the Illinois votes and the nomination to Ford.


Barack Obama: Obama also visited Kankakee County twice. In September 2004, Obama visited Morning Star Baptist Church. On February 18, 2005, while a senator, Obama gave a speech at the Hilton Garden Inn. He gave a pro-business speech in which he contrasted the departure of Maytag with Google. He also talked about improving businesses by bettering our schools, asking for more federal money for roads, and supporting the Peotone Airport. Later the same day, Obama spoke at Kankakee Community College about minimum wage.

For those of you not keeping track, that is 9 out of 44 presidents who have been to Kankakee County. That’s 20%! At that rate, we may have a few more visiting soon.Who knows, a future president may have been here already!

You Learn Something Every Day:Zachary Taylor Davis

The Kankakee County Courthouse architect has been known to be Zachary Taylor Davis, pictured to the right. His wife was from Momence, giving him a special interest in the project. Davis and his firm also designed Comiskey Park and Weeghman Park, today known as Wrigley Field.

weegman park

Weeghman Park

Exhibit Observations

Even though I have lived in Kankakee County for most of my life, I was not familiar with the museum until the past year or so. The first time I walked through the museum was the day of my interview, and I was overwhelmed with how nice everything was! I never realized how much history is found in Kankakee County, and every day I find out countless more facts about Kankakee’s rich history.

I wanted to use this first entry to tell
all of you about my image3favorite museum exhibit: The Story of Kankakee County. This is one of the newest exhibits: it opened this past May. This exhibit gives insight to early Kankakee County, especially Kankakee in particular. In it, you can see anything from a blacksmith’s bellow to a model of the Hotel Riverview to old medical supplies from Riverside Hospital. There is so much information, and countless pictures to complement the exhibits. I have spent a bit of time wandering through this room, and I still think I missed some of it.

This is my favorite exhibit because, for one, I really enjoy how open the room is. It is spacious, but still full of information. Everywhere you look, there is something to catch your eye, but it is not overly busy either. I love how much there is to this exhibit. This exhibit really gives you a sense of what life was like back before most of our modern advancements were here. As I said earlier, I have lived in Kankakee County for most of my life so there is some familiarity to the exhibits.
This only enhances the exhibits, because I think it is much more interesting to know exactly where, say, the Hotel Riverview was located. I never knew it existed, but I could picture where the location is today.


If you stop in the museum soon, be sure to check out this exhibit. Even if you are not from the county, there is so much information and cool things to see. I’m sure you would enjoy it!

You Learn Something Every Day: After the plans for a third courthouse (the one we know today) were completed, the second courthouse needed to be knocked down in 1908. Otha Grubbs, a struggling carpenter, promised $2 to dispose of the building and site within 2 months, while most contractors wanted the county to pay them. The county agreed to Grubbs, who sold the stone, timbers, steel, etc. He made over $2,000 and kept enough materials for his own business and several houses.

Second Courthouse (P8600)

The Second Courthouse, demolished in 1908.

Intern Insights


Before I start this blog, I just want to take a second to introduce myself. My name is Sadie Witvoet, and I live in Grant Park. I will be a senior at Olivet Nazarene University this upcoming fall, and I’m studying Business Administration and Marketing.  I was so excited to start an internship here at the Kankakee County Museum. The staff here is awesome, and being here doesn’t even feel like work! I’m very fortunate to be able to have this opportunity, and I would love to share some of my experiences with all of you. Although our blog has been out of commission for a little while, we’ve been discussing bringing it back and thought it would be interesting to have an intern’s point of view. I’m very excited to start this, and I hope I can provide a fun and intriguing insight into what goes on at the museum for all of you.

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I am going to end each blog with a little fact that I discovered during my day or week at the museum, either from walking through the museum or from my research. I hope you enjoy them!

You Learn Something Every Day: On October 21, 1931, Paramount Theater hosted the wedding of Artis Weaver and Adelene Winterroth to promote the movie “I Loved a Woman”. To show their appreciation, the theater gave the newlyweds a sack of potatoes, a half ton of coal, and more.I Loved a Woman Movie Poster

Paramount ticket booth

The ticket booth at Paramount Theater