8th and Calista Streets
This plaque and park honor Lennington Small, the 26th governor of Illinois. Born in 1862, Small grew up on a Kankakee County farm, becoming a banker and farmer before entering politics. Small served as a state senator and then Illinois treasurer before his election to the governor’s office in 1920.
His time in office was riddled with accusations of corruption. The very year Small was sworn in as governor, he was indicted for money laundering during his tenure as treasurer. He was acquitted, although suspicions of jury tampering were fueled by the state jobs given to eight jurors in his case. Small went on to win the governor’s seat again in 1924, but the attorney general later secured a $1 million judgment against Small in civil court.
Governor Small’s greatest accomplishment was in road building. During his tenure, Illinois had the best system of roads in the country with more than 8,000 miles of road completed in just eight years. This work stimulated the Illinois economy and created many jobs for construction workers. Small also introduced a school funding formula that leveled the playing field for smaller districts.
He died in 1936. Nine years later, the Governor Small Commission was formed and soon purchased two plots of land for the memorial park and plaque. Today the area is home to the Kankakee County Historical Society.