Hawes Grain Elevator Museum

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

| August 2000

  • The head house of the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator
    The head house of the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator in Atlanta, Ill. The Hawes Elevator Museum has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is the only such structure to receive that title in Illinois.
  • Deane May restored the 10 h.p. Fairbanks Morse gasoline engine used in the engine house
    Over the course of three years, Deane May restored the 10 h.p. Fairbanks Morse gasoline engine used in the engine house.
  • A wooden scale house/office and a brick engine house stand near the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum
    A wooden scale house/office and a brick engine house stand near the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum. Volunteers used old bricks to reconstruct the engine house, and the scale house was donated by another grain-handling company.
  • This scale for outgoing grain, located inside the elevator, was made by M.H. Winslow Manufacturing
    This scale for outgoing grain, located inside the elevator, was made by M.H. Winslow Manufacturing in Terre Haute, Ind.
  • The Fairbanks Morse before restoration.
    The Fairbanks Morse before restoration.
  • A Fairbanks Morse gasoline engine operated the belts, pulleys and shafts used to elevate the grain in the elevator.
    A Fairbanks Morse gasoline engine operated the belts, pulleys and shafts used to elevate the grain in the elevator.
  • This old wagon is stored inside the museum to demonstrate how grain was emptied from the horse-drawn wagons.
    This old wagon is stored inside the museum to demonstrate how grain was emptied from the horse-drawn wagons.
  • The scale to weigh the loads of grain was manufactured by Chicago Scale Co.
    The scale to weigh the loads of grain was manufactured by Chicago Scale Co. It was not original to the Hawes elevator.

  • The head house of the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator
  • Deane May restored the 10 h.p. Fairbanks Morse gasoline engine used in the engine house
  • A wooden scale house/office and a brick engine house stand near the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum
  • This scale for outgoing grain, located inside the elevator, was made by M.H. Winslow Manufacturing
  • The Fairbanks Morse before restoration.
  • A Fairbanks Morse gasoline engine operated the belts, pulleys and shafts used to elevate the grain in the elevator.
  • This old wagon is stored inside the museum to demonstrate how grain was emptied from the horse-drawn wagons.
  • The scale to weigh the loads of grain was manufactured by Chicago Scale Co.

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.



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