Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

The beautiful homes on Main Street in Casey, Illinois

If you ever visit Casey, Illinois, be sure to do two things: (1) pronounce it “cay-zee,” and (2) drive in from the east on Main Street. The first is to prevent embarrassing yourself should you talk to any of the locals, for the town’s name is not pronounced as it looks. The second is to enjoy the absolutely gorgeous homes that line the street, which is the old National Road.

Main Street, Casey, IL

These lovely homes and their good condition say that Casey found some prosperity in the early 20th century and either managed to keep it or found it anew more recently. That’s not to say Casey is a wealthy city. In the 2010 census, the median annual income for a household was about $37,000. That income doesn’t support purchasing any of these houses. Clearly, these are homes to some of Casey’s well-to-do families.

Main Street, Casey, IL

I tried to photograph these houses when I last visited, on a hot summer day in 2007. But the trees were fully leafed, blocking many of these houses entirely. On this early-spring day the trees only recently started to produce leaves, so my camera’s lens could see more of the houses.

Main Street, Casey, IL

Even then, I sometimes struggled to frame some of the homes. I frequently got more of a house’s side than its front, as the photos above and below show. By the way, dig the great soffits on the house below.

Main Street, Casey, IL

I made all of these photographs with my Nikon F2 and my 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom-Nikkor lens on Fujicolor 200 film. That zoom lens let me take some of these photos from the same side of the street as the house was on, and others from across the street. My go-to lens is my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens, but for these subjects I would have found myself standing in the middle of Main Street to get most of these photos. I’m not entirely sold on how saturated these colors are and kind of wish I’d put something like Portra 400 into the camera for this series.

Main Street, Casey, IL

Not that there was much traffic, had I stepped into the road to take a photo. Main Street may once have been US 40 and the National Road, but US 40 was rebuilt decades ago to bypass the town, and later I-70 was also built nearby. If you’re on Main Street in Casey, it’s because you want to be in Casey.

Main Street, Casey, IL

That’s all right with me. It leaves Casey’s lovely and quiet Main Street to those of us who follow the old paths.

If you like old-house photos, some more are here.

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14 thoughts on “The beautiful homes on Main Street in Casey, Illinois

  1. helenbriggsphotography says:

    Oh wow what beautiful houses :-) One day I might be able to afford to live down a street like that *dreams* :-)

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  2. bodegabayf2 says:

    When the Interstates were built, bypassing the Main Streets, some of the best stuff to see never got seen anymore…me thinks.

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  3. Ward Fogelsanger says:

    I grew up in Casey on the south side of Main Street opposite the first two houses shown. Growing up I knew all of the owners of the houses pictured. The last one used to be the “other” funeral home and I believe is now owned by the gentleman my father sold his optometry practice to in 1982…the fourth house shown used to be the parsonage of the United Methodist church which stood further west on Main Street just east if downtown and had the same color bricks. Unfortunately it was torn down and replaced by a ” modern ” building on rt 49 north. By the way the gas station across from Roosevelt school was known at one time as the nicest Standard station between Indianspolis ans St. Louis. There also is an awesome home on west Main known as the Doc Harris house ( used to have a name plate on it) that I have always liked.

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    • Ward, I’m glad you commented today to add some color to my post. Casey is an unexpected gem on the road because of it’s beautiful Main Street. You were very fortunate to grow up on it. And Casey is very fortunate that these homes have been so well preserved through the years.

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  4. Keith Milsark says:

    Jim, if you ever get down South, visit Eufaula, Alabama. Their main street is US Highway 431, but it’s a two lane road with a 20 mph limit, and some of the most beautiful old houses you will ever see. Eufaula is in eastern Alabama, south of Columbus, Georgia.

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  5. Steve Miller says:

    I’m struck by the resemblance to the University Courts neighborhood in Bloomington, an area bounded on the south by Seventh Street, on the north by Tenth, on the west by Indiana Avenue, and on the east by Woodlawn Avenue. From its earliest development it was home to Bloomington merchants, stone mill operators, and college professors — solid citizens with tasteful eyes and an appreciation for well-designed and built homes. Over the years, IU came to own most of the properties. The school has by large been a neglectful landlord… and now is set to raze one side of an entire block of Eighth Street in a land swap with a frat being displaced from Third Street.

    Lost will be one of the few examples of Prairie Style in Bloomington, the Streihm House, very similar to the fourth house you’d pictured. Also lost in that block will be several designed by John L. Nichols, Bloomington’s first architect. You can read more about the neighborhood and what will be lost here here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Wicoulte/University_Courts_Historic_District

    Sic transit gloria mundi.

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    • I’m sad to hear that these historic homes are being razed. Bloomington is such a lovely town, and it’s a shame that the university isn’t a better steward of these buildings.

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    • Those are good prices. In Indy, depending on what neighborhood, houses like those could go for twice that. Up in Zionsville they’d go for four times that.

      But someone making Casey’s median income isn’t living on Main St., to be sure.

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