660 E. Terra Cotta Ave, Crystal Lake

Phone: 815.477.5873


Th-Fri, 11 AM - 5 PM

Sat, 10 AM - 4 PM

digital guide

drop-In Fun at Colonel Palmer House

Stop by the Colonel Palmer House, during open hours and try these activities for FREE

Scavenger Hunts: Stop by and grab one of our Scavenger Hunt lists and explore away. Lists will be changed out each season. You never know what you might find!
Drop-In Crafts


Summer Programs at Colonel Palmer House

The Colonel Palmer House is known for its many programs and special events that bring history to life. Check the Crystal Lake Park District seasonal program guide for the most up to date information. History Happens Here!

Advance registration required. For class description, date, fee and other information, see pages 37-39 in the digital summer guide. Click on the program code to link to online registration.
Summer Fairy Celebration
Garden Camp Day
Fairytale Garden
The Muse, World of Art Series
click on the program code in the digital guide to link to online registration

Special events at colonel palmer house

More Info

  • General Information

    Gustavus A. Palmer and his wife Henrietta arrived in McHenry County from Nunda, New York by covered wagon circa 1841. As early pioneers to the area they purchased land from the Federal Government to start their homestead. The Colonel, as he was called by his neighbors, would eventually acquire over 300 acres of property. As a successful farmer he hired Andrew Jackson Simons, a local architect, to build this Greek Revival and Federalist style brick home in 1858. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home and grounds provide the perfect setting for historic presentations.

    The building is now open to the public for tours, special events, and research of local history. The home contains the office of the Crystal Lake Historical Society who maintains records of Crystal Lake history and collections of local artifacts.

    A Unique Partnership

    The Colonel Palmer House is operated and maintained by the Crystal Lake Park District and leased from the City of Crystal Lake. The Park District and Crystal Lake Historical Society partner to bring our area's history to the community. This partnership won the 2009 Small Institution of the Year Award from the Illinois Association of Museums. Our thanks to the many dedicated interpreters, re-enactors, hobbyists and staff who volunteer their time and knowledge to make our programs successful.

    Contact Info

    Sarah Taylor



    Looking for something new for one of your club's monthly meetings? Join us at the historic Colonel Palmer House and let us do the work! Costumed staff will make all the arrangements including a program on the Palmer family history and tour of the home.

    Date: Saturdays or Sundays

    Maximum Capacity: 24

    Fee: $25 per person

    Perfect for:

    • Historic Groups and Guilds
    • Bridal Showers Baby Showers
    • Birthday Parties


    Fee: $140 (1-15 participants), $6 each additional person (25 max)

    To reserve your 2-hour party, please contact the Colonel Palmer House Facility Manager at 815.477.5873 or staylor@crystallakeparks.org

    Tea for Tots (Ages 2-5)

    After an enchanting storybook teatime tale, we'll make a unique Victorian craft and learn the beginning stages of etiquette through a series of fun historic games and dances. If the weather permits, we will have a picnic.

    Folklore Fables (Ages 6+)

    Legends speak of mythical creatures that have existed for thousands of years. Unveil the history behind some of our favorite tales and their popularity during the Victorian era. Through the art of storytelling and games, you'll have everything you need to craft a unique rendition of your favorite fantasy world.

    Palmer's Parlor Puzzles (Ages 6+)

    Strategy, critical thinking, and problem solving are just a few of the skills needed when you enter a Victorian puzzle. Through a series of historical games and theatrical dialogue of your favorite characters, explore what it takes to solve a mystery at The Colonel Palmer House.

    Early Inventions (Ages 6+)

    Learn the history behind some of the most renowned inventions of all time. As you discover what life was like during the Industrial Revolution, design a model of your favorite creation.

    The Green Kingdom (Ages 6+)

    There is said to be a language behind the origin of flowers and stories about their native land. Learn the history behind popular blooms and how they were used during the Victorian era. From the most eloquent gardens to natural habitats, find out how to craft a keepsake of your favorite plants.

    A Collection of Curiosities (Ages 6+)

    Discover the history behind some of the most extraordinary collections of all time. While you show and tell some of your favorite treasures, receive an exclusive tour of rare archives prevalent to the Victorian era.

    request more info


    The Crystal Lake Park District provides comprehensive Boy Scout/Girl Scout programs at the Colonel Palmer House.


    • $6 per participant
    • Achievement & Electives for Tiger, Bear, Wolf and Webelo
    • 1-1.5 hour of instruction
    • All instructors have completed Youth Protection Training


    • Merit Badge Programs
    • Fee based on Merit Badge
    • Programs available any time including evenings and weekends
    • Length of programs vary
    • All instructors have completed Youth Protection Training and are registered Merit Badge Counselors


    • Call to reserve your troop's ideal date
    • All day Journey Activities
    • 1-2 Badge Programs
    • LIA Opportunities
    • Fees based on program/activity


    Volunteer opportunities at the Colonel Palmer House are ongoing, both inside the house and on the grounds. Contact the Manager for upcoming events and details.