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National Historic Landmarks: Illinois

National Historic Landmarks: Illinois

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Lincoln Tomb • Oak Ridge Cemetery, 1441 Monument Avenue, Springfield; 1-217-782-2717 and

Dedicated in 1874, the 117-foot-tall tomb is the final resting place of Lincoln, his wife, Mary, and three of their four sons. A rotunda and corridors leading to the burial chamber contain reproductions of important Lincoln statues plus plaques with excerpts from Lincoln speeches.

Illinois Old State Capitol • Sixth and Adams streets, Springfield; 1-217-785-7960 and

Built between 1837 and 1840, this served as the state house until 1876. Abraham Lincoln worked as a state lawmaker here, and as a lawyer pleaded cases before the state Supreme Court. He announced his candidacies for the U.S. Senate and for president here. A video covers the myriad of historical events that took place in the building, and a 30-minute self-conducted tour includes the courtrooms and legislative offices.

Abraham Lincoln Home • 413 South Eighth Street, Springfield; 1-217-391-3226 and

Built in 1839 and restored to its 1860 appearance, this 12-room, Greek Revival house has been open to the public since 1887. Tours focus on the Lincoln family in the 17 years they lived in the house and Lincoln's rise as a lawyer and politician, along with his 1860 presidential campaign.

Vachel Lindsay House • 603 South Fifth Street, Springfield; 1-217-524-0901 and

Lindsay is considered the father of modern singing poetry, in which verses are sung or chanted. He was known as the "Prairie Troubador" because his work had Midwestern themes. This 1879 residence offers tours that emphasize his poetry and art.

Dana-Thomas House • 301 East Lawrence Avenue, Springfield; 1-217-782-6776 and

Completed in 1904, the 12,600-square-foot home is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's largest. The furniture was designed by Wright and is original to the house.

Principia College Historic District • River Road, Elsah; 1-618-374-5148 and

The campus contains 11 buildings designed by Bernard Maybeck, who is best known for the homes he designed in San Francisco. Maybeck was also the architect for the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts. Visitors can take a self-guided tour using a map provided at the gated campus entrance.

Lyman Trumbull house • 1105 Henry Street, Alton (private residence);

A staunch Lincoln supporter, Trumbull led the fight for the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which officially abolished slavery.

Nicholas Jarrot Mansion • Intersection of Route 3 and Route 157, Cahokia; 1-618-332-1782 and

Nicholas Jarrot (1764-1820), a French-born entrepreneur and land speculator, began construction of his home in 1807. One of the earliest surviving masonry buildings in Illinois, the home is notable for its use of American Federal architecture, rather than the traditional French Colonial style common in the area.

Modoc Rock Shelter • Randolph County (see website for directions);

A 28-foot layer of sediment reveals human habitation during three periods, each several thousand years apart, beginning 9,000 years ago.

Pierre Menard House • 4230 Kaskaskia Street, Ellis Grove, 1-618-859-3031 and

Pierre Menard (1766-1844) was among the first to explore the vast Illinois Territory. In 1812, as president of the first Illinois territorial legislature, he was selected to write the state constitution.

Kincaid Site • Southern tip of Illinois, Massac and Pope counties (see website for directions); 1-800-248-4373 and

These 19 mounds are thought to have been influenced by the Cahokia settlement. Visitors can tour an interpretive display but cannot access the mounds.

Cahokia Mounds • Collinsville Road, Collinsville; 1-618-346-5160 and

Inside the interpretive center, a video, artifacts and exhibits help visitors visualize life in the Mississippian settlement between 800 and 1400, when it was home to about 20,000 people.

Outside, strong-legged visitors can climb to the top of 100-foot-high Monks Mound, the largest prehistoric earthwork in the Americas. It was one of 120 mounds at the site, which encompassed 4,000 acres.

Fort De Chartres • 1350 State Route 155, Prairie du Rocher, Ill.; 1-618-284-7230 and

Fort de Chartres is the last of three forts that France's colonial government built between 1720 and 1763 in southern Illinois. The state acquired the ruins in 1913 and has reconstructed much of the post.

The north wall of the fort is complete with gatehouse, musket ports and embrasures for cannon. A rebuilt powder magazine is thought by many to be the oldest building in Illinois. Other structures include the guards' house and the king's storehouse. The restored portions and a museum paint a picture of life at the post in the mid-1700s, in what was then called "Illinois country."

Numerous activities are conducted throughout the year; consult the website for details.

Church of the Holy Family • 116 East First Street, Cahokia, 1-618-337-4548

Originally completed in 1799, the church was constructed in a traditional French Colonial style known as "post on sill." Vertical black walnut timbers form the outside church walls. The original cypress roof and supporting timber trusses are composed of mammoth oak beams, all held together with wooden pegs.

Visitors also can tour the latest addition to the church, two rear alcoves built in 1833. However, the parish itself is even older. It was founded by Canadian missionaries and dates to 1699.

New Philadelphia • Pike County, Ill.;

An empty field marks where the town once stood, but New Philadelphia's unique history was enough to prompt approval of the site as a National Landmark last year.

In 1836, Frank McWorter, a slave who had purchased his freedom in Kentucky, settled in a sparsely populated region in west Central Illinois between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. He surveyed and registered the land, and New Philadelphia became the first town established by a free African-American.

McWorter sold lots, using the revenue to purchase the freedom of 16 family members. His activities as town promoter and developer attracted many white residents.

However, a new railroad was routed to an adjacent community, and a proposed commercial navigation canal never materialized. By the 1880s, the town was unincorporated.

Eads Bridge • Stretching 6,442 feet between St. Louis and East St. Louis

James Buchanan Eads designed and built his namesake bridge, the oldest bridge still in use over the Mississippi River and the first to use high-strength steel as a bridge component. When he finished in 1874, it was the longest bridge in the world.

Rather than using trusses for support, Eads innovated a design incorporating arches made of steel — the first time metal was the main support material for a bridge. The bridge piers remain some of the deepest ever sunk.


What do the Gateway Arch, the Alamo and the Grand Canyon have in common? They’re all National Historic Landmarks.

Fewer than 2,500 places qualify for the designation, and 38 of those are within a 2-hour drive of St. Louis. In all, Missouri is home to 37 National Historic Landmarks and Illinois has 85.

Click on a pin on the map or a historic site in the sidebar to learn more about each landmark.

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