Children 12 and up
Suite Type

Guide to Illinois Historical Sites in Jacksonville

There's a lot of history in and around Jacksonville, Illinois and plenty of ways to experience it. The many historic sites vary, ranging from museums to historic homes to former stops on the Underground Railroad. Explore Jacksonville, Illinois history with our guide to Illinois historical sites in the city. For a look at historical sites that involve Abraham Lincoln, check out our guide to Lincoln sites in Jacksonville and Springfield.

Historic Homes in Jacksonville, IL

Jacksonville, Illinois features a lot of unique and historic homes. Many of which feature iconic architecture that reflect the era in which they were built. Some of the homes have prominent places in history while others showcase historic architecture. There is a walking tour that takes you through Jacksonville's westside historic neighborhood, guiding you through 19 different homes. While you can start and end the tour wherever you like, the easiest approach is to start and end at Duncan Park with Govern Duncan Home, Helen Ayers Bullard House and F.J. Waddell House. The tour will have you weave between State Street and College Avenue.

Big Eli Ferris Wheel

  • Address: Community Park, 1309 S. Main St., Jacksonville, IL
  • Hours: Sunday 4-6 p.m. Memorial Day through Fall and Holidays.
W.E. Sullivan was intrigued with the original ferris wheel in 1893, opting to build his own smaller version that was portable. His first Big Eli wheel opened in 1900 in Jacksonville. It originally stood in the city's Central Park before exploding into a phenomenon used in fairs across the country. This ferris wheel still stands and offers free rides during the regular Sunday schedule. The Jacksonville Rotary continues to run the ferris wheel in the Community Park.

Woodlawn Farm

  • Address: 1463 Gierkie Lane, Jacksonville, IL
  • Hours: Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. June through September
Woodlawn Farm sits just east of Jacksonville and was a crucial part the Illinois Underground Railroad. This homestead housed many former slaves as they made their way to freedom in the northern states. Michael Huffaker established the farm in 1824 for his growing family. It also included four cabins for free Black families who helped on the farm. He built the two-story brick home that stands today in 1840. There is a suggested donation of $4 for adults and $3 for children.

Jacksonville Area Museum

  • Address: 301 E. State St., Jacksonville, IL
  • Hours: Wednesdays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays 1-4 p.m.
Jacksonville Area Museum sits in an old post office building, offering exhibits throughout. The museum is "dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation and appreciation of the cultural history and heritage of the Jacksonville and Morgan County area." While the museum encompasses the old lobby, post office box and office areas, there are plans to expand further in the building as additional funds are raised. Traveling exhibits also call the museum home so check its Facebook page for updates.

Downtown Jacksonville

Jacksonville's downtown area is rich in history and heritage. The city's Central Park offers a town square setting that hosts events and activities throughout the year. Many of the buildings that surround the park are historical and have been repurposed for continued use. Visitors to downtown Jacksonville will find a wide array of shops, services and restaurants. Some historic buildings in downtown that are worth your time include the Morgan County Courthouse, Jacksonville Public Library, The Farmers State Bank and Trust Company building and the Taylor Mercantile Company building. There are plenty of placards and historical spread around Downtown Jacksonville, making it worth your time to go exploring and walking in the area.