Hawes Grain Elevator Museum

Hawes Grain Elevator Museum in Atlanta, Ill., is the only known restored elevator museum in the U.S.

| August 2000

Back in 1903, when the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator opened in Atlanta, Ill., or even in 1976, when the elevator closed its doors, the farmers who hauled grain there didn't dream that one day it would re-open as a museum. 

The 55-foot-tall elevator with studded walls is the only such structure in Illinois listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Deane May, who spearheaded the building's restoration, knows of no other restored elevator museum in the U.S.

"It's very unusual to find a building this old that has not been upgraded and that still retains its original character," Deane said.

The elevator even has a historic location: Just one block off old Route 66.

J.H. Hawes built the 30,000-bushel capacity grain elevator along the Illinois Midland Railroad, which gave him access to east-west grain markets.

In the late 1980s when Deane learned that the Atlanta City Council might allow the local fire department to burn the old elevator as a training exercise, he mobilized the public to save the structure.