Welcome to the 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.
Fort de Chartres State Historic Site
1350 State Route 155
Prairie du Rocher, IL 62277
The site is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. IHPA protects the state’s historic resources, which contribute to education, culture and the economy. IHPA sites include ancient burial mounds, forts and buildings erected by settlers, and homes connected to famous Illinoisans.
Open: Year-round. Site facilities are open Thursday – Sunday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 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.
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency suggested site donation: $4 for adults, $2 for children, $10 for families.
Currently the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site special events are being sponsored by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres.
Learn how you can support Les Amis and their Fort de Chartres 2017 Special Events Giving Campaign-thank you!
May and June Upcoming Fort de Chartres Special Events
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Kids’ Day-Saturday, May 6, 10 AM-4 PM
Kids’ Day 2017 Update, May 1: Today the flood gates in Prairie du Rocher will be closed due to the recent heavy rains and resulting area river flooding and upcoming river crests. PLEASE NOTE the positive news- there is NO current threat for evacuation. But as a result of the flood gate closures, Les Amis will have to cancel our Kids’ Day event in 2017 for now but we invite families join us June 3 & 4, for the historic 47th Annual June Rendezvous! IF the Kids’ Day event is able to be rescheduled this summer or fall, we will announce a new date later month. In the meantime, watch this FB page and the Fort’s website for the June Rendezvous schedule of events. We hope to see you and your families at the Rendezvous!
Kids’ Day features 18th century games, contests and crafts for children. FREE to the general public.
Volunteer Interpreters will be on site to allow kids their hand at 18th century rope making, archery, games and other activities. Kids can enlist to be a Fort de Chartres French Marine and can take a chance at becoming King or Queen by finding the bean in the Kings cake! All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times. Concessions will be available for sale throughout the day. The event is open and free to general public.
Saturday & Sunday, June 3 & June 4, 2017
The 47th Annual Fort de Chartres June Rendezvous
Saturday, June 3, 10 AM-5 PM
Sunday, June 4, 10 AM-5 PM
11 x 17 June Rendezvous Poster created by Lopata Design
The two-day popular annual Rendezvous, held the first weekend in June, features shooting competitions, military drills, dancing, music, food, and traders of eighteenth-century-style goods.
The boom of cannons, the smell of campfires and a parade of colorful uniforms will transport visitors back to the 1700s on June 4 and 5 at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site’s annual Rendezvous, the largest gathering of its kind anywhere in the Midwest, attracting many thousands to the site during this 2 day special event. Click on the June Rendezvous page on this website for event information and updates!
The Rendezvous features 1700s military units, traditional craft demonstrations, period music and dancing, black powder shooting events and cannon firings – all from the time when France controlled what is now Illinois. Visitors can try their hand at throwing a tomahawk, buy hand-made crafts, learn about French kitchen gardens, and watch swordsmen duel, taste delicious food and much more. This event is hosted by Les Coureurs des Bois de Fort de Chartres and sponsored by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres, with additional site support from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
The event is open and free to general public with special event parking for this event just $5 a car. Donations welcomed.
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 email@example.com. 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, including our new Les Amis logo.
Thursday, May 18th, 2017, former site supervisor, Darrell Duensing, and Kathy Janik, Fort librarian, welcomed the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site’s new Site Services Specialist, Dr. Todd J. Hamilton, Ph.D. Todd has... Read More