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'Fargo' crew features historic McLean County farmhouse
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MCLEAN COUNTY

'Fargo' crew features historic McLean County farmhouse

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TOWANDA — Pontiac isn't the only Central Illinois town getting love from a film crew for "Fargo" this week.

After wrapping up production Tuesday in Pontiac, the television crew packed up their 1950s fake storefronts and cars and moved to Duncan Manor, a McLean County historic landmark near Towanda.

David Howell, owner of the 1860s-era Italianate, three-story brick farmhouse off Towanda Barnes Road and visible from Interstate 55, said the crew is filming interior and exterior shots over the next two days.

"It's pretty cool and they've been great to work with," Howell told The Pantagraph. "It think it's cool they're choosing small towns in Illinois to film."

Over the last few weeks, the "Fargo" crew has filmed in Momence, Kankakee, Pontiac and Towanda, said Peter Hawley, director of the Illinois Film Office.

While rural areas of Illinois fit the aesthetic of "Fargo's" script, Hawley expects to see more TV and film productions outside of the Chicago area for a few reasons, including awarding 30 percent tax credit to qualified productions. 

Duncan Manor

Duncan Manor is no stranger to characters in costume. In this June 2017 file photo, people dressed in steampunk fantasy garb gather on the spiral staircase.

"We have seen an uptick in production outside of Chicago," he said.

Another factor attracting potential Hollywood productions to Illinois is the fact that some actors refuse to work in certain states due to their stands on social issues, Hawley said.

You betcha: 'Fargo' crew transforms downtown Pontiac into 1950s Kansas City, Missouri

The filming in McLean County closed a section of Towanda Barnes Road (between Jefferson Street in Towanda and Raab Road) between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday and will again Thursday. McLean County deputies will redirect traffic Thursday, said Sheriff Jon Sandage.

The fourth season of "Fargo" is set in 1950 Kansas City, Mo. The series is scheduled to premiere in April with stars Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw and Timothy Olyphant.

The story revolves around a family man, played by Rock, who "surrendered his oldest boy to his enemy, and who must in turn raise his son's enemy as his own," according to the FX website. It is "a story of immigration and assimilation, and the things we do for family."

The crew set up shop in Pontiac on the corner of Madison and Mill streets over the weekend to film scenes for the crime-drama limited series.

The 1996 film of the same name was nominated for seven Oscars and won for two (best actress and best original screenplay). Previous seasons of the TV series have been based in different time periods, different locations and with different stories and characters. 

In 2019, filming resulted in around $560 million being spent in Illinois, an 18 percent increase over the previous year, said Hawley. 

Contact Sierra Henry at 309-820-3234. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_sierrahenry.

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