The History

Duncan Manor is a historic landmark in McLean County recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

A successful breeder of thoroughbreed Shorthorn cattle, William Duncan moved to Towanda, Illinois from Clark County, Kentucky in 1863.  William made the transition after he lost his fortune as a Union sympathizer during the Civil War.  After the transition, it’s said that he did more for the improvement of the stock in McLean County than any other person.  Accompanying him were his second wife Mary and their four children.  In 1864, Mary passed away and shortly after her death he married his third wife, Sarah, with whom he had 5 children.

In December of 1865, William Duncan purchased 300 acres outside of Towanda, Illinois and called this land Towanda Meadows. Somewhere between 1866-1870, Duncan Manor was built on a hill overlooking the railroad tracks, amidst the prairie that is Towanda Meadows.  Duncan chose this spot of land as it was easily accessible via the Chicago and Alton Railroad.  He even built a stockyard and the train made frequent stops to pick up and drop off cattle, businessman, and fellow cattlemen.  William Duncan wanted his home to be noticed and he had hopes that it would be a place for gathering and entertaining.  Unfortunately, William never had the chance to really enjoy his beautiful home, as he died of a sudden and unknown illness in the fall of 1876, at age 57.

Duncan Manor has passed through many hands, but for the majority of its existence it has acted as a rental property and has not received the love and attention it deserves.


150 years later, we were blessed with the opportunity of our lives. Somehow we found the house when we were living in Denver, CO, or the house found us. We moved in on July 6th, 2014.

Years of neglect have created quite the restoration project! When we moved here in the summer of 2014, we were in camping mode. The Manor had no electricity, plumbing, water, or HVAC. The roof was leaking, walls were crumbling, and porches rotting. Not all of this has changed, but we are making progress!

We so appreciate the love and support we have received from a community we are happy to call home.  We are thrilled with the progress and eternally grateful.