As the State of Illinois has reached Stage 5 of its COVID-19 reopening plan, Shawn Chesnek, Site Superintendent of Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, Fort Kaskaskia State Park, The Pierre Menard Home, The Kaskaskia Bell Memorial, and the General Bond Memorial, announced the following Illinois Department of Natural Resources site status updates on June 15, 2021:
Fort de Chartres-Site grounds are open from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week. The Museum and display buildings are typically open Tuesday thru Sunday 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, depending on staff availability, closed all holidays. Site self-guided tours only (unless special arrangements are made through Fort support organizations with proper advance notice for staff to be available). Shelter availability is first come first serve. Office phone number for further information is 618-284-7230. Additionally, the rear gate house upper area is now open officially to the public. Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the site’s oversight agency, repaired the beam in the Land Gate roof last April. All signs and barriers have been removed and the area has been powerwashed and best cleaned as possible.
Fort Kaskaskia State Park-The site is open sunrise to sunset on all day use, the area’s campground is open 24-7 for camping with quiet hours from 10pm to 7am. There is normally a host on duty on the weekends but there is also an Iron Host self-check in station. Campsites are currently walk-in only on a first come first serve basis. A reservation process is scheduled to be implemented in the future and an announcement will be made once it is available. Shelters can be reserved currently by contacting site office. Office phone number for further information is 618-859-3741.
The Pierre Menard Home-Site will be closed until further notice due to staff shortages.Office phone number for further information is 618-859-3741.
The Kaskaskia Bell Memorial-Open from sunrise to sunset daily. Self-guided tours only. Office phone number for further information is 618-859-3741.
The Governor Bond Memorial-Open from sunrise to sunset daily. Self-guided tours only. Office phone number for further information 618-859-3741.
All Illinoisans impacted by a cancellation or closure are encouraged to call the IDNR’s Parks Administrative Information Line Monday – Friday at 217-782-6752. A complete listing of state sites can be found on the IDNR website at https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Pages/default.aspx or https://www2.illinois.gov/…/Experi…/Sites/Pages/Default.aspx.
WELCOME TO FORT DE CHARTRES STATE HISTORIC SITE
Located four miles west of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, the site marks the location of the last of four successive French forts named “de Chartres.” Built in 1753 by the French during their eighteenth-century colonization of the Illinois Country, the massive stone fort was preceded by three wooden forts, with the first fort erected in 1720. Fort de Chartres served as the French seat of government and its chief military installation in Upper Louisiana from 1753 until 1765 when it was occupied by the British. In 1763 France ceded much of its territory in North America, including what is now Illinois, to Great Britain. British troops occupied the fort from 1765 until 1772, when encroachment by the Mississippi River caused a collapse of the south wall. Subsequently, the remaining walls and buildings fell into ruin.
Today, the site features an imaginative reconstruction of portions of the fourth Fort de Chartres. The fort gate, built in the 1920s, has been remodeled several times. Portions of the fort’s walls were reconstructed on original foundations in 1989. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Inside the fort are the restored powder magazine, believed to be the oldest building in Illinois, two reconstructed stone buildings, and the exposed foundations of other buildings. The powder magazine is stocked with reproduction barrels and barrel racks. A combination museum and office building, built in 1928 on the foundation of an original fort building, houses exhibits depicting the history of Fort de Chartres and the Illinois Country. The large stone Guard House, reconstructed in 1936, contains a Catholic chapel furnished in the style of the 1750s, along with a priest’s room, a gunner’s room, an officer-of-the-day room, and a guard’s room. Also on the grounds are an operating bake oven, a garden shed built of upright logs in post-on-sill construction, and a kitchen garden with raised beds of produce that would have been grown in eighteenth-century Illinois.
Recreational facilities outside the reproduced fort include a day-use area with a picnic shelter and grills.
Fort de Chartres welcomes you to the heart of French Colonial Illinois! Please visit us throughout the year, whether for a wonderful day trip through the hills of southwestern Illinois or at one of our many special events held throughout the year.
Contact Information for the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site
1350 State Route 155
Prairie du Rocher, IL 62277
The site is operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. On July 1, 2017 The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency was divided into its constituents, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library and Illinois Historic Preservation, both part of the the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The state’s historic resources contribute to education, culture, and the economy include ancient burial mounds, forts, and buildings erected by settlers, and homes connected to famous Illinoisans.
Open: Year-round. Site facilities are open Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00 AM –4:30 PM. Site grounds are open from dawn – dusk every day.
Closed: Site facilities are closed on New Year’s Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Thanksgiving, Day After Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
Illinois Historic Preservation suggested site donation: $4 for adults, $2 for children, $10 for families.
For additional Fort de Chartres State Historic Site and staff information, please visit the Contact Us page on this website.
For a list of event donors, please visit the Donate page of this website.
Les Amis du Fort de Chartres,
PO Box 366, Prairie du Rocher, IL 62277
501(c) (3) not for profit organization501
To learn more about the 300 year-old history of Fort de Chartres, please read Dave Horne’s article-Happy 300th Birthday, Fort de Chartres!.
Celebrating the 300th Anniversary of Fort de Chartres
2020 heralded the 300th anniversary of the first of the four Fort de Chartres structures built and located in the strategic Mississippi River bottomland of Le Pays des Illinois. This first Fort, built of wooden palisades, signaled the creation a new center of French colonial government in Illinois. First occupied by the French in 1720, the Fort became the nucleus of French civil and military government, as well as an economic center in the Illinois country and the French Louisiana area during the eighteenth-century.
In celebration of this milestone anniversary and the important history it represents, Les Amis du Fort de Chartres commenced a $100,000 Capital Project Repair Giving Campaign for the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site in 2020-2021. Funds raised for this campaign will go toward the much needed repairs at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, located in Prairie du Rocher, IL, with a focus on the area around the Fort’s Land Gate which is need of considerable repair. Les Amis du Fort de Chartres $100,000 Capital Project Repair Campaign at Fort de Chartres has been approved by the site’s oversight agency, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The 2020-2021 Fort de Chartres Capital Project Repair Giving Campaign began January, 2020 and a related 300th Anniversary special ceremony was held at the annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous, celebrating its golden anniversary on the rescheduled date of September 11, 2021. The 300th Anniversary/50 Years of Rendezvous ceremony invitation were sent to dignitaries, campaign donors, and other supporters across the state and nation. Fort de Chartres State Historic Site’s 51st Annual Rendezvous, one of the largest gathering of its kind anywhere in the Midwest, attracted thousands to the site during this two-day special event. The Annual Rendezvous event was expanded in celebration of its golden anniversary. A major public relations campaign for the event was coordinated with Illinois South Tourism, the marketing arm for 22 counties across the state of Illinois. We thank everyone who joined with us as we celebrated the Fort de Chartres 300th anniversary milestone-all volunteers, vendors, community organizations, Fort staff, and visitors, who made the 51st Annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous a success! We sincerely appreciate everyone’s hard work and efforts in the months before and during the event.
Thank you for your support in celebrating the 300th Anniversary of Fort de Chartres.
Thank you to the following donors for their support of our 2020-2021 Capital Project Giving Campaign in honor of the 300th Anniversary of the first Fort de Chartres:
$60,000-Randolph County, Illinois-Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds
$15,828-Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Illinois
$1904-Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Missouri
$1250-The National Society of Colonial Dames of America
$1320-300th T-Shirts Sales
$720 300th Souvenir Mugs
$300 Vicki Kehrer
$200 Margaret Brown
$100 Gary Henson, James & Merrill Hill, Lee Meliere
Under $50-Austen Boettcher, Anne Brewster, Kim Craft, Susan Fletcher, Jason Griffith, Susan Hezel, Patty Humphreys, John Hunt, Jason Johnsrud, Jane Knapp, Diana Mueller, Anna Poling, Kelley Schearf, Mardell Sibley, A .P. Woods,Tiffany Woods, Roger Yoakum
Les Amis du Fort de Chartres Heart of Illinois Country Artisan Shop 2020-2021 proceeds befitting the Capital Project Giving Campaign in honor of the 300th Anniversary of the first Fort de Chartres
Current Campaign total September, 2021-$100,000
Merci to all who support our Capital Project Campaign at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site!
Fort de Chartres, The Heart of the Illinois Country website, is funded and maintained by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres.
Les Amis was an officially endorsed partner of the 2018 Illinois Bicentennial Commission.
Currently the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site annual special events are being sponsored by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres.
2022 SCHEDULE OF SPECIAL EVENTS
Colonial Trade Faire and Musket & Rifle Frolic at FdC-April 2-April 3
Artillery Safety School at FdC-TBA
52nd Annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous-June 4 & 5
Fort de Chartres Winter Rendezvous-November 5 & 6
Prairie du Rocher La Guiannee at Fort de Chartres-December 31
As most are aware, Les Amis du Fort de Chartres has supported and sponsored special events at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site since 2016. We have worked hard to raise money for the Fort’s annual special events, receiving financial support from local and regional businesses over these last 5 years. Combined with the efforts of Les Coureurs des Bois de Fort de Chartres, we have endeavored to keep alive the proud, decades-old tradition of annual events held at Fort de Chartres, welcoming participants/reenactors, vendors, artisans, performers, and visitors from the region, state and the nation. The past two years have certainly been challenging, as events had to be cancelled due to flooding concerns and the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. And while we are excited to once again presenting the Fort’s special events, funding has been difficult as some area businesses have been economically impacted by these recent challenges. In response to these new challenges, LAdFdC applied to Illinois Humanities for a COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grant earlier this summer, with the hope to secure additional funding to help replace these lost resources.
Les Amis du Fort de Chartres was recently awarded a $5000 grant from IL Humanities, an award that means so much to our organization and in turn, to our community-as tourism to our site and our area has struggled in the absence of the Fort’s annual special events. With this award, we can help bring back vital events that breathe life into our local and regional centuries-old history and the communities that depend on our joint efforts/partnerships to survive and thrive. Thank you to Illinois Humanities* for this much needed and appreciated grant award. We are excited to partner with them to help present special events in 2021-2022.
*Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement.”
French Colonial Fort de Chartres, A Journey in Time
Les Amis du Fort de Chartres’ new line art book publication by author & artist Tom Willcockson is now available. The French Colonial Fort de Chartres, A Journey in Time publication was made possible through the support of the members of Les Amis du Fort de Chartres, the general public, and through the Illinois Humanities Council “Forgotten Illinois” grant award.
Show your support of this educational project by ordering your copy. Merci!
2020 Special Events Schedule is available on the Events page of this website!
For other regional information:
Photo credits on this website: Ericha Johanning, Thang Ho Photography, Maddog Michael, Carol Kuntz, Jennifer Duensing, Carl Esperman, James Cheyenne Trambley, and Dave & Deb Horne’s Fort de Chartres Store Facebook page.
Thank you to Scott Irvin for supporting the Fort de Chartres website. The site is maintained by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres volunteers and for any website questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. All words in blue offer informational links.
Thank you to Mitch Lopata, of Lopata Design, for the donated graphic art creations for Fort de Chartres Special Events, including our new Les Amis logo.
Les Amis has some wonderful 300th Capital Project Campaign grant news! As most of you remember, early in 2020, Les Amis du Fort de Chartres asked permission from IDNR to begin a fundraising... Read More
In this season of thankfulness, Les Amis du Fort de Chartres is happy to report that during the recent Winter Rendezvous, an additional $1000 was raised for the Chapel Renovation Project with... Read More