Genuine Northwest, Spring Edition

Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.

Elgin Academy Laura Davidson Sears Gallery

350 Park Street, Elgin, (847) 695-0300,

Situated on the campus of Elgin Academy, this neo-classical structure was built in 1924 with a donation by Judge Nathaniel Sears and his wife, Laura, an 1872 graduate of the private school.

One of Elgin’s first museums, the Sears Gallery has been a focal point of the campus. It was built for $150,000, and is constructed of Georgia marble and brick, its entrance adorned with six Doric columns.

Since its earliest years, the building has housed fine artwork, much of it donated by the Sears family. At one time, it held a collection of sculptures, paintings and drawings Elgin Academy students used to study history and culture. Portions of the collection have been sold off, and areas of the building have since been renovated for other uses by the school.

Today, the permanent collection is on display in The Washington Room, so named for its large portrait of George Washington. The display also includes a 24-foot photo of the east side of Elgin taken in 1866.

The gallery is mainly used for school-related events, but the public is invited on certain occasions, such as Open Elgin.

White River State Trail

Walworth County, Wis.; Open Dawn to Dusk

This 19-mile trail gives a glimpse of many scenic views, native wildlife and quaint towns through the northern part of Walworth County, in Wisconsin. Built along an abandoned railway, the trail starts near an industrial area on the southern end of Elkhorn and continues, with a short gap in Burlington, to Vandenboom Road near the Racine County Fairgrounds.

The unpaved, crushed limestone surface makes this trail accommodating for bikers, walkers and joggers alike. There’s also a 2-mile horse trail running alongside the path from Springfield to Lyons.

Bicyclists, skiers and horseback riders must buy a state trail pass, available at the kiosks on the trail, Elkhorn Chamber of Commerce, Walworth County Visitors Bureau, Walworth County Public Works Department, Bob’s Pedal Pushers in Burlington, and Pedal and Cup in Lake Geneva.

If you’re a fan of chocolate, the powerful scent of chocolate chip cookies will make your mouth water as you enter the eastern branch of the trail in Burlington. It’s located a stone’s throw from the Nestle Chocolate & Confection factory and passes through Bushnell Park, which has sports fields, walking trails, a playground and picnic facilities.

The White River Trail’s westernmost terminus is located about 5 miles from Lake Geneva and Big Foot Beach State Park. Though there aren’t any designated bike trails along the route, County Road H will get you back and forth.

William Dennison Cary Statue

Jaycee Park, Silver Lake Road at Cary Algonquin Road, Cary

This statue, which was unveiled last year, depicts a head-and-shoulders rendering of the village’s founder and namesake. The 24-inch bronze statue was created by St. Charles sculptor Guy Bellaver, who had only a single daguerreotype photograph to reference.

Born in New York state in 1807, William Dennison Cary came from a family of town planters that traced its roots to the pilgrims in Plymouth, Mass. He and his family arrived in Illinois in 1841 on a horse and wagon, settling on 82 acres of land bought from the U.S. government for $1.25 an acre. In time, he amassed as much as 640 acres around what’s now the downtown district.

Around the late 1850s, Cary sold a small portion of his land to the Illinois and Wisconsin Railroad, which sought to build a single track through his property. Cary died in February 1861, at the age of 53, about two years before a train station was built so local farmers’ goods could get to Chicago. The new stop was named Cary Station.

The Village of Cary was formally incorporated in 1893 with 300 residents, mostly farmers. Today, the village covers roughly 6 square miles and has a population of more than 18,000 people.

The farmhouse where Cary raised his seven children still stands today, just south of its original location at U.S. Route 14 and First St.