The Top 15 Historical Sites in Illinois!

There is a wealth of historical sites sprinkled throughout the Land of Lincoln, providing an intriguing glimpse of the past. Some of the historical sites are natural wonders such as fossil beds and rock cliffs, while others are man-made architectural marvels. Discover something new at these 15 historical sites in Illinois. 

1. Cahokia Mounds, Collinsville, IL

Cahokia Mounds is a 2,200-acre historical site of a preserved prehistoric civilization. Here rests the architectural remains of a highly sophisticated native settlement that was larger than London in AD 1250. Visitors can now explore this ancient civilization in Collinsville.

2. Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Homesite, Chicago, IL

The Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Homesite is the first known permanent residence in Chicago (not including native settlements). This site dates back to the 1780s and became a National Historic Landmark in 1976. 

3. Old State Capitol, Springfield, IL

This historic building features Greek revival-style architecture and plenty of fascinating history. Lincoln practiced law in this building and was associated with this historical site as early as 1837. Although the building was rebuilt and remodeled, it remains a spectacle for guests. 

4. Unity Temple, Oak Park, IL

Unity Temple in Oak Park was built by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1908. Architects consider this structure the first modern building of that period. Visitors can now marvel at this brightly lit sanctuary made almost entirely of concrete.  

5. Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, IL

Rock Island Arsenal, the largest government-operated weapon manufacturing arsenal in the U.S., is a National Historic Landmark packed with history. It served as a prison camp for Confederate soldiers from 1863 to 1865, housing more than 12,000 Confederate soldiers. Although the prison facility has been completely destroyed, tourists can still visit the Rock Island National Cemetery and Confederate Cemetery. 

6. Abraham Lincoln Home, Springfield, IL

Tour the only home Abraham Lincoln has ever owned and lived in before he became president. Located in Springfield, the 12-room Lincoln homesite looks exactly how it did in 1860 when Lincoln and his wife resided there. 

7. Modoc Rock Shelter, Modoc, IL

The Modoc Rock Shelter is a National Historic Landmark at the edge of the Mississippi River. This rock cliff features over 28 feet of sediment containing artifacts from prehistoric time periods. Archaeologists believe this site was used as both short-term and long-term camps by hunting groups and families as long as 9,000 years ago. 

8. Arthur H. Compton House, Chicago, IL

Located in Chicago, the Arthur H. Compton House was the residence of the professor who discovered the Compton Effect. This discovery proved that light has both a wave and particle aspect. In 1927 Compton also received the Nobel Peace Prize in Physics. Now the Arthur H. Compton House is a National Historic Landmark. 

9. Fort De Chartres, Prairie Du Rocher, IL

With history dating back to 1790, the Fort De Chartres was a French Fortification built of limestone on Mississippi River’s east bank. It was rebuilt several times due to flooding, and now stands as an Illinois Historic Site and National Historic Site. 

10. Clarence F. Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, IL

Located in Grant Park, the Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world. It produces a water display for 20 minutes each hour, shooting water 150 feet into the air. The Buckingham Fountain is also one of the finest ornamental fountains in the world. 

11. Kincaid Mounds Site, Massac County, IL

The Kincaid Mounds mark the site of a prehistoric Native American civilization dating back to the Archaic Period from 8000 to 2000 BC, which is the pre-pottery period. The people of that time built large buildings, possibly temples or council houses, on top of large mounds and carved figurines into coal and fluorite. In 1964 this area was declared a National Historic Landmark. 

12. Mazon Creek Fossil Beds, Grundy County, IL

Surround yourself with fossils that formed around 300 million years ago at the Mazon Creek Fossil Beds in Grundy County. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997, this incredible area features various specious of hard and soft-bodied plant and animal tissues preserved in ironstone concretions. 

13. Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago, IL

Once the tallest building in Chicago, the Chicago Board of Trade is now a historic landmark and still a primary trading venue. It’s known for its Art Deco architecture, stone carvings, sculptures, and large trading floor. The original Chicago Board of Trade was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire. 

14. Old Kaskaskia Village, Kaskaskia, IL

This historical village now has a population of under 20 people, but it once was a Native American village inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years. In the early 1700s French colonists established a missionary there and it briefly served as the state’s capital from 1818 to 1819. A flood destroyed most of the town in 1881 and again in 1993.

15. Holy Family Catholic Church, Cahokia, IL

The Holy Family Catholic Church in Cahokia is the oldest Catholic Parish in the United States. Founded in 1699, The Log Church was built in 1799 and is constructed of black walnut timbers. It still stands and is the oldest historic church west of the Alleghany Mountains. 

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Find Historical Societies, Sites & Museums Near You
Find Historical Societies, Sites & Museums Near You
110 West Fremont Street, Arlington Heights, IL
Mission: The past is never lost - as long as it is remembered. Towards that goal, the Arlington Heights Historical Museum collects and preserves si... Read More
408 South Broadway, U.S. Highway 37, Salem, IL
About William Jennings Bryan was born in this home in 1860. The house was built for his father, Judge Silas M. BRYAN. The house is on the Nationa... Read More
5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
About the MuseumChicago's Museum of Science and Industry, one of the largest science museums in the world, is home to more than 35,000 artifacts an... Read More
5550 South Greenwood Avenue, Chicago, IL
Mission statement: The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago opens the world through art and ideas. Aboutus: As the art museum of the... Read More
1524 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
Mission:  The mission of the Museum is to enrich people's lives by enhancing their appreciation and understanding of the history, development... Read More
1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
Mission Statement: The Field Museum inspires curiosity about life on Earth while exploring how the world came to be and how we can make it a bette... Read More
1601 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL
Mission Statement The Chicago History Museum is a privately endowned, independent instiation devoted to collecting, interpreting and presenting th... Read More
2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum inspire people to learn about and care for nature and the environment. The i... Read More
2430 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
Founded in 1857, The Chicago Academy of Sciences was Chicago’s first museum. In 1999, the Academy opened the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in... Read More
1852 West 19th Street, Chicago, IL
Our Roots And Mission: In 1982, Carlos Tortolero organized a group of fellow educators and founded the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, which open... Read More
800 South Halsted St., Chicago, IL
Mission Statement The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum serves as a dynamic memorial to Jane Addams, the work of her associates, and the neighborhood ... Read More
700 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL
Mission: Chicago Children's Museum's mission is to improve children's lives by creating a community where play and learning connect. About Us: C... Read More
116 Altgeld Hall, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL
Mission and ObjectivesAs an art museum belonging to an academic institution, the dual roles of the Northern Illinois University Art Museum are to c... Read More
509 North First Street, Dekalb, IL
The House Today The Ellwood House property today consists of about 8.5 acres, which includes the wooded area to the North of the mansion. The origi... Read More
150 Cottage Hill Avenue, Elmhurst, IL
Mission:Our mission is to provide the people of Elmhurst and surrounding communities with a center for visual arts - known for its welcoming atmosp... Read More
40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, IL
Mission Statement: The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art enriches teaching and learning on the campuses of Northwestern University and in the comm... Read More
4690 Old Grand Avenue, Gurnee, IL
The Warren Township Historical Society was organized in 1975 to unite all people interested in the area history of Warren Township, Lake County, Il... Read More
2N930 Garfield Rd., Lafox, IL
Garfield Farm and Tavern, listed in the National Register of Historic Sites, is a 281-acre farmstead and former 1840s teamster inn 40 miles west of... Read More
813 School Avenue, Matteson, IL
Mission The mission of the Matteson Historical Museum is to curate, conserve and provide access to the historical documents and artifacts on loan ... Read More
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