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by Jessica Waytenick •

Address: 1105 8th Street in Moline, Illinois (Houses within a 1/2 block walking distance from each other)
Phone: 309-765-7970
Web Site: www.butterworthcenter.com
Hours: Tours by appointment during regular hours. Please call in advance. During July and August tours are given at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. on the weekends.
Admission: By Donation
Media Contact: Gretchen Small, 309-743-2701 or gsmall@butterworthcenter.com
What's New:

  • The 1909 Butterworth organ underwent a major restoration in 2008. It is one of the largest residential organs in the Midwest.
  • In June 2009, the Butterworth Center opened a new Education Center on the grounds in a former outbuilding that was remodeled to now include a welcome center, display area, small auditorium, kitchen facilities, and a large meeting room that outside groups can use.
  • They also premiered a new video tracing the life of John Deere and history and mission of these two historic homes.

John Deere and his descendants left more to the world than the first successful steel plow and the successful Deere & Company. Sitting atop the hills overlooking Moline, Illinois, and the Mississippi River are two historic homes built by Charles Deere, John Deere's son.

The homes serve a dual purpose. They remain as examples of the finest craftsmanship of the 19th century, as well as being available as free meeting places for not-for-profit organizations that have interests in the arts, education, recreation and health. Both homes stay busy on a daily basis with meetings, lectures, and recitals. A trust, established by Katherine and William Butterworth, fully supports and maintains both.

Butterworth Center was the home of Katherine and William Butterworth for more than 60 years. They were the daughter and son-in-law of Charles Deere. Originally known as Hillcrest, the house was built in 1892 as a wedding gift for the couple from Charles and Mary Deere, who lived a block away in the Deere-Wiman home.

The Butterworth's entertained quite frequently and were very active in the community. When William Butterworth succeeded his father-in-law, Charles Deere, as the third president of Deere & Co., the home became a more formal residence. The Butterworths, who traveled extensively, bought many treasures from around the world to showcase in their home. The size of the house tripled over the years that the couple lived there. There are now approximately 30 rooms and, overall, about 25,000 square feet of space.

From its massive foyer to the tunnel that leads from the garage to the main house, the Butterworth Center represents the finest of its era. Circasian walnut paneling from Europe was used throughout the living room and music room. Doors were carved in a linen-fold pattern - considered one of the most difficult styles of wood carving - giving each door a three dimensional appearance.

The living room, constructed on two levels, includes a music area that was added onto the house in 1909. The room features an organ with 26 sets of pipes hidden behind walnut latticework. When being played, it can be heard throughout the house.

The masterpiece of the Butterworth home is the library, which was added in 1917. The Butterworths built the library to house a painting that came from Hotel Danieli, formerly Ca'Dandolo, a palazzo in Venice, Italy. It is believed that the painting was completed for the Bernardo family who lived on the third floor of Ca'Dandolo in the 1700s.

Due to key observations and ongoing research, the ceiling is considered to be the work of Gaspare Diziani. The Valeriani brothers (Guiseppe and Domenico) may have also contributed to the painting with the quadratura elements. Full canvas Venetian ceilings from the 18th century are rare and the Butterworth ceiling is quite exceptional in the way it combines elaborate painted quadratura and figure painting on an extensive scale. Quadratura is a method of painting ceilings and walls to give the illusion of architectural elements, such as joining imaginary architecture to the real architecture of the room.

While the Butterworth home is frequently described as elegant, the Deere-Wiman house is most often characterized as warm and inviting. Though smaller, it too represents the finest of the Victorian era.

Overlook, as the Deere-Wiman House was known, was designed by Chicago architect William Le Baron Jenny, the father of the early skyscraper. Built on seven-acres of land that include formal gardens and a carriage house, the house features many original furnishings, including a King Neptune lamp and silk Aubusson rug. In the dining room, there is one-of-a-kind wall covering that is a combination of stenciling and hand painting on canvas.

Both homes have elevators and central vacuum systems that were ahead of its time. Steam heat, electricity, and modern plumbing were also the norm, but boilers were kept off site. Underground tunnels were built so staff could avoid inclement weather. The Butterworth home offered a tunnel to the garage, while the Deere-Wiman house had one to an indoor pool and the carriage house.

All tours include a visit to the home's exquisite and unique gardens. Both families enjoyed the flowers and trees not commonly found in the Midwest. On the grounds you will find a tricolor beech, cucumber magnolia, and a bald cypress.

Annual events include Blossoms at Butterworth on the last Sundayin June, 19th Century Christmas on the first Sunday in December, anda year-long concert series.

 

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