McDonough County’s only National Historic District now includes a museum. The one room building contains artifacts from the old Moses King National Brick and Tiles Work Company near Colchester.
One of the artifacts is a brick signed by company founder Moses King. Current owners Tim Schroll and Dev said they stumbled across it one day among the countless bricks on the grounds.
Schroll said it was akin to coming across a needle in a haystack.
“That’s the Holy Grail,” Schroll said. “That is totally what it’s like. We had no concept that (the brick) even existed.”
He said they verified the authenticity of the signature by comparing it to King’s signature in the old tax rolls kept at the Western Illinois University archives. He said many other bricks are stamped with “Moses King” or “M.K.” but they have found just the one brick with King’s signature.
Schroll said some of the museum’s artifacts were found on the grounds and some were donated by former workers. The museum includes a few birdhouses that former workers made out of tiles.
The museum is housed in a building that was known as “the doghouse.” Schroll said it contained dials and other equipment used to monitor the temperatures in the kilns. Scroll is not sure how the building came to be known as the doghouse but he said old workers that he’s talked to always referred to it by that name.
“It was just a temporary structure, I really think, but we figure it’s probably somewhere around 100 to 110 years old,” Schroll said. He added it was on skids so it was likely moved around the grounds.
Schroll said the goal is to eventually open the museum and the 10-acre grounds to the public, but for now tours can be done by appointment only.