Local Officials Dedicate 'Reagan Way' in Illinois

Dixon, Ill. honored its favorite son, Ronald Reagan, Friday by dedicating "Reagan Way," the street where the former president traveled and toiled as a child.

"I think Ronald Reagan, even when he went to Washington, D.C., brought some of the great Midwestern values he developed at this house and on this street," House Speaker Dennis Hastert said of Hennepin Avenue, where Reagan's childhood home is located.

Reagan last visited Hennepin Avenue in 1990, four years before he announced he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. None of his relatives were in attendance at Friday's dedication.

Reagan, now 91, has lived longer than any other president, and his legacy is one that Hastert said Americans still feel.

"Ronald Reagan gave us the belief that we can believe in ourselves and take pride back in this country, and he was a person who inspired that feeling and that pride and the nationalism of the value of being an American citizen," Hastert, who represents Dixon, said.

Congress approved Reagan's boyhood home as a national historic landmark in February. Now, the city of Dixon has also honored Reagan's school – now the Dixon Historical Center – the First Christian Church where he was baptized, and the Dixon Public Library where he frequently read.

Reagan was born nearby in Tampico, Ill., but his family relocated so frequently that the home at Hennepin Avenue, where the Reagans moved in 1920 and lived for three years, is the only home he remembered, said Norman Wymbs, chairman of the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Preservation Foundation.

The family lived in several central Illinois towns as Reagan's father sought business opportunities. Reagan, who was nicknamed Dutch, and his older brother Neil, nicknamed Moon, raised rabbits in the backyard during their time in Dixon.

"This is the first time in their lives the family had stayed anywhere more than a year," he said.

Reagan went on to be a lifeguard, an athlete, and a performer before moving to Los Angeles, where he became an actor, president of the Screen Actors Guild, and governor of California before serving two terms as president of the United States beginning in 1981. As president, he is credited with reducing sky-high interest rates and bringing down the Berlin Wall.

Childhood friend William Thompson told Fox News that he always thought older brother Neil would be the more successful son since Ronald Reagan was less outgoing.

Up to 25,000 people tour Reagan's home annually. The National Park System, a bureau of the Department of the Interior, will take over the home when it and the Reagan Boyhood Foundation settle on a purchase price, but the government will contract out the daily operations of the home to the foundation, Wymbs said.

Fox News' Steve Brown and the Associated Press contributed to this report.