Downtown Jacksonville Illinios
This is a short walking tour made possible by the work of students at Illinois College.
During the 19th Century there were three courthouses built in Jacksonville IL, the county seat of Morgan County. The first being built in 1826 and the second in 1829.Unfortunately in Jacksonville, this town has a history of buildings catching on fire and the past two burned down to the ground. The final one that stands today, was completed in 1868. Located along 300 W State St. The courthouse has been a workplace to some very famous Illinoisians. Stephen A Douglas worked at the second courthouse, later becoming a judge at the present day court house. The new courthouse was the workplace of the Honorable Cryus Eplet, the Judge of the 7th Circuit Court. He held the seat for twenty four years (Beard, “National Register” 7). Richard Yates Jr, who began his practice in Jacksonville in 1884, and served as Judge of Morgan County until he was elected in 1940 as the 22nd Governer of Illinois, he only served one term. (Beard, “National Register” 8). Illinois College’s very own William Jennings Bryan also worked there. He ran three times for the Democratic presidential candidate during his stay (Beard, “National Register” 8). Building the building itself took a lot of planning and a lot of money. The total cost was a grand total of $204,000 (Beard, “National Register” 8), The architect was G.P. Randall of Chicago. This building still remains to a tribute of the great work that he did around the time he was alive. Some of his other buildings are University Hall at Northwestern University, and Marshall county Courthouse, he also designed a few other courthouses. The blend of the Italianate country villa with a French Second Empire style, the style of this building is amazing(Beard, “National Register” 2). This design was not common for 1868. It is made of limestone and is three stories high, rectangular in shape and it was made to cover about two thirds of a city block. The building faces West State Street, and a second entrance on the North West Street. Inside it has a grand staircase, every office has wood flooring, and an elevator that was later added in the 1960’s for handicap accessibility. It has two very distinct features that most court houses don’t have, a bell tower and a great bell that rest in that tower. The company that built the bell is A. Fulton’s Son & Co and the bell cost a total of $1,900 (Beard, “National Register” 2). The architect Mr.Randall wanted to have the bell to ring every hour, but the clock work was never installed (Beard, “National Register” 3). The great bell is still in exceptional condition and it stands today to as a historic reminder of great craftsmanship. There are some original items missing. The old statute of Lady Justice that used to be at the courthouse somewhat disappeared and no one has any idea where she went. The sword and the scales disappeared possibly as early as 1872, where she stood naked until she disappeared between the time 1903 and 1930 (Beard, “National Register” 2). One of the earliest cases recorded in court records was People vs. Charles King following an indictment forgery. He pled guilty to the charge. He was fined $50, four months of imprisonment,also he would receive 25 lashes on his bare back. He was not flogged in the courthouse instead publicly in the public square (Eames, 25). Public hangings did occur in Jacksonville. A Scott County murder case was also brought to Jacksonville. And a public hanging to be staged. However, the defendant was able to escape and was never heard of again. Morgan county did not have a permanent seat until it was brought up in the Illinois Legislature in the fall of 1824 (Eames, 32). The center of the county was pinpointed to be three miles west of Jacksonville, but the land was cheaper so this preset site was chosen. Strange practices also occurred at this house as stated in the article “Historic beginning for Stone Landmark” that most cases in the early days of the court were held in open air, in a camp style fashion. Jacksonville to wanted to make a strong stand against slavery; every slave that someone owned would be taxed. This was levied on the date of March 4,1829 according to the pamphlet, Morgan County Marks 100th Courthouse Anniversary. That would increase the revenue that was available to the town for future projects. As you can see Jacksonville’s courthouse has had some interesting things happen to it since it's been around and has made some last impressions.
Jacksonville's downtown square is newly renovated and is perfect for anybody wanting to checkout the town's downtown history or attend the events that go on. There is a great variety of places to eat and shop. The downtown of Jacksonville holds a lot of historic value and there are currently quite a few buildings that still hold that value.
Dedicated in 1920, Jacksonville's Civil War Monument is dedicated to the memory of the men of Morgan County who enlisted in the United States army as well as women and other local residents whose service and sacrifice helped the Union win the Civil War. The statue is capped by Columbia, a female figure who serves as a metaphorical representation of the United States in many sculptures throughout the country. On the west side of the statue, one finds another female image which commemorates the sacrifice of local women during the Civil War. This monument is located in the center of the downtown square of Jacksonville alongside many other monuments, historic markers, and local landmarks.
The Potawatomi Indian tribe originated in the Midwest. Affected by Government treaties they were forced to relocate west of the Mississippi River. Their 600-mile, two month journey has come to be known as the Trail of Death. Along the way various monuments have been placed to serve as memorials to the lives that were taken. The tribe made a stop in Jacksonville Illinois in 1838, and in 1933 they were given a monument by the Morgan County Historical Society.
The WallDog Murals are a set of ten paintings done at different locations around downtown Jacksonville, Illinois. These murals all depict different historical events that took place in Jacksonville. The murals are located on sides of buildings on and around the downtown square. The location listed here can be considered a starting place for the murals, because it is the Welcome to Jacksonville Mural.
Want to go out and have some fun? Well come on down to Illinois Theatre in Jacksonville Illinois. We welcome everyone with a huge smile on our face and ready to give you a great experience at our theatre. We have been around for awhile now and won't be leaving anytime so. So if you looking for a great time or bored come on down to Illinois Theatre. You will have a blast.
The Hockenhull Building is actually two building conected by a corridor. The building started construction in 1891. The Hockenhull Building was built orginally as storage but would eventually be the home to many businesses, even as housing. The Hockenhull Building would be the final resting place for seven people residing there who would be killed in a fire started in the building in the 1960s.
The old Jacksonville Post Office was opened in 1905. It has had a few renovations done to it. The old Jacksonville Post Office is in the works of becoming a museum. It is planned to be open sometime in 2017 for the public.