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The Staley Museum in Decatur, Illinois

The Staley Museum opened its doors to the public during the summer of 2015. We are excited be a full-fledged member of our community. Here you will find updates and news about the museum and exciting events going on.

The Staley Museum and this web site are both works in progress. We encourage visitors to continue to check back with us and see how we are progressing. We would also like to encourage visitors to the site to share any stories or information they may have regarding Staley history.

Photos, documents, articles and memorabilia are all welcome and appreciated.  Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the Staley museum may contact us through via the Artifact Donation Form found on this site. Also, for anyone in our area who wishes to be a Volunteer at the museum and offer their time and/or expertise, please go to the Volunteer Form and fill out your information so that we may contact you personally. We invite you to Contact Us.

Staley Topics

Visit the Staley Museum

The Staley Museum is open year-round
Tuesday – Saturday: 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Last Sunday of the month (March – November): 1:00 – 4:00 pm.

Admission
Adults: $3
17 & under: $1

Location
361 N. College Street
Decatur, IL

The Staley Story

A.E. Staley was a big man with big dreams and had the determination to make those dreams a reality.  Although he did not arrive on the scene until the 1900’s, his impact of Decatur was such that he is counted as one of the founding fathers.  The largeness of his dreams and of his civic minded generosity has contributed in major ways to the city we know today.

It was A.E.’s pioneering vision in the area of soy beans, both the cultivation and processing, that gave Decatur the name “Soy Bean Capitol of the World.”

In the period of one decade, 1920-1930, A.E. Staley made significant contributions to the community of Decatur, being the driving force behind the creation of Lake Decatur, the Staley viaduct, the Staley Office Building, and the formation of the Decatur Staleys football club, later to become the Chicago Bears.

The story of A.E. Staley is one in which the city of Decatur has the right to feel great pride. It is a story which forms a major part in the industrial and agricultural history of central Illinois. We look forward to sharing that pride and history as we work toward the opening of the Staley Museum.

The Staley Office Building: Inaugurated in April, 1930
Also known as “The Castle in the Cornfields”
Photo courtesy of the Hieronymus Mueller Museum

Staley office building

The Staley Office Building: Inaugurated in April, 1930
Also known as “The Castle in the Cornfields”
Photo courtesy of the Hieronymus Mueller Museum

Staley Museum Latest News & Happenings

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All Staley Mfg. Company, Tate & Lyle, and Primient Retirees and Former Employees are invited to this year's event!

Join us at the museum for this special event celebrating YOU on April 21, 2024 from 2-4PM!

This is a FREE event with light refreshments, but to attend you must RSVP by April 7th. Call 217-519-0009 or 217 428-6043 today.
... See MoreSee Less

February 29th, 10:00 am
All Staley Mfg. Company, Tate & Lyle, and Primient Retirees and Former Employees are invited to this years event! 

Join us at the museum for this special event celebrating YOU on April 21, 2024 from 2-4PM! 

This is a FREE event with light refreshments, but to attend you must RSVP by April 7th. Call 217-519-0009 or 217 428-6043 today.

Nancy, now a museum volunteer, poses with a photo of her and other Staley employees who modeled grain bag dresses for the Women’s Club in 1957. ... See MoreSee Less

February 28th, 1:25 pm
Nancy, now a museum volunteer, poses with a photo of her and other Staley employees who modeled grain bag dresses for the Women’s Club in 1957.Image attachmentImage attachment

From the Staley Journal, February 1952.

Picture is captioned:
"Is that clock right?" Luke "Happy" Winston asks his wife. The gold and crystal clock was Happy's 35th year award. He is employed in the millhouse.

Of Note, in September 1953, Winston was named by Mayor Robert Willis to a place on the city traffic parking commission. Winston began his work at Staley's in 1916.
... See MoreSee Less

February 26th, 10:00 am
From the Staley Journal, February 1952. 

Picture is captioned: 
Is that clock right? Luke Happy Winston asks his wife. The gold and crystal clock was Happys 35th year award. He is employed in the millhouse. 

Of Note, in September 1953, Winston was named by Mayor Robert Willis to a place on the city traffic parking commission. Winston began his work at Staleys in 1916.

Museum Director, Laura Jahr just came back from a week in Loudon, TN visiting with retirees from the Staley/Tate & Lyle/Primient plant located there.

She had the privilege of speaking with each of the people seen in the photo here and collecting their stories as part of our budding oral history project for the museum. Together they shared the joys and hardships of working in the manufacturing environment, but what came through loud and clear was their pride in their work and their loyalty to the company.

As hard as their work often was, they praised the company for giving them all the opportunity to learn and grow and they unanimously commented that the best part of it all was the camaraderie and friendships developed over the years.

Laura stated that she firmly believes that Mr. Staley (A.E. Sr. himself) was there with her taking pride in these former employees and recognizing them in the success of his legacy.

She also wishes to thank each and every one of them for meeting with her and being so willing and open to share their stories!

***

Laura would also like to give a special thanks to Michael “Slim” Slimbarski, former Loudon Plant Manager. Without Slim’s commitment to this project it never would have been possible. Slim and his wife Sheila, also a Staley retiree, went above and beyond in orchestrating interviews and making sure the entire process moved smoothly. We want to share our heartfelt gratitude for them both.
... See MoreSee Less

February 24th, 12:45 pm
Museum Director, Laura Jahr just came back from a week in Loudon, TN visiting with retirees from the Staley/Tate & Lyle/Primient plant located there. 

She had the privilege of speaking with each of the people seen in the photo here and collecting their stories as part of our budding oral history project for the museum. Together they shared the joys and hardships of working in the manufacturing environment, but what came through loud and clear was their pride in their work and their loyalty to the company. 

As hard as their work often was, they praised the company for giving them all the opportunity to learn and grow and they unanimously commented that the best part of it all was the camaraderie and friendships developed over the years. 

Laura stated that she firmly believes that Mr. Staley (A.E. Sr. himself) was there with her taking pride in these former employees and recognizing them in the success of his legacy. 

She also wishes to thank each and every one of them for meeting with her and being so willing and open to share their stories!

                                                 ***

Laura would also like to give a special thanks to Michael “Slim” Slimbarski, former Loudon Plant Manager. Without Slim’s commitment to this project it never would have been possible. Slim and his wife Sheila, also a Staley retiree, went above and beyond in orchestrating interviews and making sure the entire process moved smoothly. We want to share our heartfelt gratitude for them both.Image attachment

Thank you to the SCIL Red Cross Chapter for letting us host your event last night!

To rent space at the museum please contact us at info@staleymuseum.com for more information.
... See MoreSee Less

February 23rd, 12:56 pm
Thank you to the SCIL Red Cross Chapter for letting us host your event last night! 

To rent space at the museum please contact us at info@staleymuseum.com for more information.Image attachmentImage attachment+1Image attachment
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