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Museums & Monuments

History Museums & Monuments

Stephenson County is rich with history. Visit the Stephenson County Historical Society at the Taylor Mansion, ride the Silver Creek & Stephenson Railroad antique steam train and pay respect to memorials and monuments all throughout Freeport and Stephenson County. Stop by our many historical monuments, landmarks and museums to travel back to the early years of Stephenson County’s history and prosperity.

Black Hawk Monument

The second of two Lincoln points of interest in Stephenson County is the Blackhawk Monument that honors those killed in the Black Hawk War, including the final Illinois battle of 1832 in what is now known as Kent. After serving as captain of the Illinois militia, Abraham Lincoln returned to help bury five of the slain men.
Find the Blackhawk Monument south of US 20 near Kent, located on the site of Kellogg’s Grove – an early settlement established in 1827 on a mail route between Peoria and Galena, and now on the National Register of Historic Places.
14109 W Blackhawk Rd.
Pearl City, IL 61062

All Veterans Memorial Park

Breaking ground on June 17th, 2005, All Veterans Memorial Park is dedicated to honoring and remembering the veterans of Stephenson County. A Gold Star Family Memorial is dedicated to those who have given their lives for our freedom.
The park contains large era stones from all past conflicts with benches surrounding concrete walkways and a large brick memorial garden. Thanks to the generosity of the community for the last 10 years, this memorial continues to build new additions.
2850 S Walnut Rd.
Freeport, IL, 61032

Silver Creek Museum + Antique Steam Train

All aboard the Silver Creek and Stephenson Railroad Antique Engine Steam Train in Freeport! This historic train is equipped with a 36 ton 1912 Heisler steam locomotive, three passenger flatcars and an antique red caboose – reported to be the oldest in the state. Hop aboard for a four-mile ride through farmlands and across the bridge over Yellow Creek. Make sure to stop back in the fall for the Train of Terror!
The Steam Train is housed next to the Silver Creek Museum – originally known as the “Poor House” for those less fortunate to live, work and be supported. The house has since been converted into a museum with each room representing a different facet of Freeport’s history, including antique crockware, Rawleigh manufacturing artifacts and veterans’ memorabilia.
2954 S Walnut Rd.
Freeport, IL, 61032

Stephenson County Historical Museum

Open Wednesday through Sunday, Noon to 4PM
The museum was originally opened in the Oscar and Malvina Taylor Home in 1944.  Since that time, several other museum buildings have been added to the picturesque 3-acre campus. A tour of the museum now includes:
The Taylor Mansion:  This Italianate mansion was built in 1857.  In its day, it was a social hub for the upper class of Freeport.  Family legend claims that a secret room in the basement served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The house is furnished to represent these early days.
The Irish Log Cabin Homestead: This cabin was built in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants and moved to the museum from an early settlement called New Dublin. It is accurately furnished to reflect the period of 1850.
The Millerburg Schoolhouse: This authentic one-room schoolhouse is furnished to reflect a typical rural schoolhouse in the 1920’s.
The Museum of Local Industry: This museum building features exhibits that highlight the most well-known industries of Freeport.  Henney Motor Co., Stover Manufacturing, Hoefer Manufacturing, Burgess Battery, and W.T. Rawleigh Co. are among the permanent exhibits featured in this museum
1440 S. Carroll Ave
Freeport, IL, 61032

National Museum of Arcade Toys

On the site of Stephenson County Historical Museum
Open Wednesday through Sunday, Noon to 4PM
In the early to mid-20th century, Freeport was home to several nationally known toy manufacturers, including Arcade, Freidag, Structo, and more. This museum features examples of many of the toys produced by these companies, including the largest publicly exhibited collection of Arcade cast iron toys in the world.
1440 S. Carroll Ave
Freeport, IL, 61032

The Soldier’s Monument – A Civil War Memorial

Designed by General Smith D. Atkins and erected in 1871 the Soldiers’ Monument – an 83-foot tall, limestone obelisk monument – is an American Civil War Memorial.
A statue of Victoria – the Roman goddess of victory – originally topped the monument, but was destroyed by lightning in 1960. The statue was returned to her pedestal after an absence of 55 years in 2015 after several years of fundraising. Marble tablets at the base listing the names of Stephenson County’s Civil War casualties were reversed and covered by bronze plaques to allow space for all of the county’s Civil War veterans in 1924. Four 7-foot statues at the corners of the base, also replaced in 1924, represent soldiers from each major branch of the Union military: the Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Navy.
The monument was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1998. Find the Soldiers’ Monument in historic Downtown Freeport, located at the northern corner of Galena Ave. and Stephenson St. next to the Stephenson County Courthouse.
15 N Galena Ave.
Freeport, IL, 61032

Vietnam Memorial

Designed and sculpted by local Cedarville artist Eric Donaldson and dedicated in 1987, the Stephenson County Vietnam Era Veterans Memorial represents the missing man. Perched on a base of black granite, the bronze statue is a full-size M-16 with a bayonet stuck in the ground and a helmet on top. Dog tags hang from the trigger guard inscribed with the words “POW/MIA” and a pair of combat boots stands in front of the M-16. On the rear of the memorial are the thoughts of the Vietnam veterans.
This memorial can be found on the same block as the Soldiers’ Monument, on the southeast corner in front of the Stephenson County Courthouse.
15 N Galena Ave.
Freeport, IL, 61032

Lincoln Douglas Debate Square & Statue

On August 27, 1858, the most significant of the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates took place in Freeport, IL and gave the nation direction in succeeding years due to the famous Freeport Doctrine. While Stephen Douglas kept his seat in the Senate after the debates, his reply that each state should be perfectly free to do as it pleased in regards to slavery, no matter the ruling of the Supreme Court, stirred a sentiment of betrayal among constituents that would come back to haunt him in his bid for President in the election of 1860. Abraham Lincoln’s point that “a house divided could not stand,” his belief that Americans of every race were entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and his stance against Douglas’ advocacy for popular sovereignty were what ultimately led to his election later on.
Visit the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Square in historic downtown Freeport, next to the Union Dairy, to see the first statue ever erected to include both Lincoln and Douglas in commemoration of the debates that influenced US history. This landmark is one of two points of interest for Lincoln history in Stephenson County.
114 E Douglas St.
Freeport, IL, 61032

Jane Addams Burial Site

Located in Cedarville off Route 26 you will find Jane Addams Burial Site. Jane Addams, the first female Nobel Peace Prize winner and known as the “mother” of social work, is most famous for her social activist work and affiliation with the Hull House – a settlement house for European immigrants.
Her death sparked a public outpouring of grief worldwide and she remains a prominent figure in both national and local history. Addams’ family plot is marked with an obelisk in Cedarville Cemetery, a short distance from her birthplace at the John H. Addams Homestead.
W Red Oak Rd.
Cedarville, IL 61013

Oakdale Tabernacle

The Tabernacle, located within Oakdale Nature Preserve, is one of the most historically important structures in Stephenson County, as well as the state of Illinois.

Built in 1915, after a lightning strike destroyed the original, the Tabernacle’s unique construction structure which is a marvel in and of itself. There were many types of tabernacles constructed in Illinois in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s but none with the unique engineering of this bridge-truss steel-girder construction. The Tabernacle played an important role in early Stephenson County life as part of the religious camp meeting system and served as a place for cultural and family gatherings. Historical accounts indicate that thousands of people would attend these August camp meetings.

In 2021, the Freeport park District leased the Tabernacle to the group, Save the Tabernacle Inc., which is now in the process of bringing the magnificent structure back to life. The Oakdale Tabernacle is once again being recognized for it’s historical significance and betterment of Stephenson County and Northwest Illinois.

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