With its original brick streets, Arcola’s Main Street business and shopping district features well-kept, recently-renovated historic buildings, adorned with colorful murals painted during a town-wide Wall Dogs Festival in 2012.
A Breath of Fresh Air
You’ll find a trip to the Arcola countryside to be more than a breath of fresh, country air. Farming styles are diverse: everything from the latest in farming technology for planting and harvesting to the horse-drawn machinery of Amish farmers. Douglas County is home to Illinois’ largest Old Order Amish settlement. The rural area is home to many Amish farms, businesses, and schools. You’ll enjoy the unique view of horse-drawn buggies, carts, and farm equipment during a drive through the country.
Arcola Amish Community
Amish came to Illinois in 1865 where they purchased farmland along the Kaskaskia River and its tributaries. Amish farms and businesses are an integral part of the social and economic fabric of Arcola today.
Photo by Leann Moses Rardin
Arcola History & Renovations
In 2009, owner of the Otto building and local businessman, Wilmer Otto, received national attention. He headed a group that arranged to have an authentic Mesker Bros.
Iron Works storefront (located in the neighboring town of Stewardson) restored and moved to Arcola to replace the facade of the landmark Arcola building. The Mesker storefront in Stewardson had grace
d the quickly deteriorating former Opera Hall there. The Otto Building’s original Mesker storefront was destroyed by fire in 1950. A special community ceremony dedicated the restoration project made possible through the collaboration of the two towns. There are also several other historic Mesker storefronts in Arcola where you’ll find a host of unique shops that offer shoppers opportunities to home decor items, art, antiques, locally made Amish baked goods and hand-crafted Amish furniture.
Renown Rockome Gardens
If you require something with a little more activity, novel adventures are right around the corner at Rockome Gardens. The lovely gardens and theme park offer a chance to learn about the local Amish community at the Amish Interpretive Center where you can schedule tours of Amish homes, barns and schedule a traditional meal in an Amish home. Additionally, visitors may experience firsthand a number of traditional Amish activities including live demonstrations such as cheese production, candy making, baking, and the production of corn meal. These items will also be available for purchase in the Rockome Food Store, which features the largest bulk food inventory in the area. including buggy ride and visit Amish shops. Traditional favorites at Rockome will remain including the annual quilt show, antique barn, buggy and train rides as well as a large selection of locally produced Amish crafts.