Update from Fort de Chartres Site Superintendent Shawn Chesnek:
Fort de Chartres State Historic Site grounds are officially open to visitors. The pavilion and playground are roped off and only the museum bathrooms will be open, not the museum. Visitors are expected to keep up social distancing and no group gatherings or events until further notice. Buildings remain locked. It is part of a gradual plan to reopen state sites and further prevent the spread of COVID-19. We thank everyone for their patience. May 2, 2020
All site reopening information and updates from site staff will be shared here.
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.
For more information on COVID-19, visit the IDPH website at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/. You may also contact the IDPH at DPH.SICK@Illinois.gov or call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-889-3931.
Prairie du Rocher, IL — Due to the current Illinois Department of Natural Resources State Park and Historic Site closures, Les Amis du Fort de Chartres announces the rescheduling of the 50th Annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous that was to be held June 6 & 7, 2020. The new date of September 12 & 13, 2020 is announced, allowing for the reopening of Illinois state sites and a review of any new potential plans for state site fall events.
Fort de Chartres State Historic Site’s annual Rendezvous, is the largest gathering of its kind anywhere in the Midwest. The event attracts many thousands to the site during this two-day special event. The event will be expanded this year, in celebration of its golden anniversary and in recognition of the 300th anniversary of the first Fort de Chartres. This annual event is presented by Les Coureurs des Bois de Fort de Chartres and sponsored by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres.
The 50th Annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous is made possible through the dedication of the Fort’s many volunteers and support organizations and through donations by businesses and individuals in our surrounding communities. Opening ceremonies occur on Saturday at 9 a.m. and on Sunday at 10 a.m., with closing “retreat” ceremonies to take place Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. The Fort de Chartres Annual Rendezvous features 1700s military units, traditional craft demonstrations, period music and dancing – all from the time when France controlled what is now Illinois. Visitors can watch muskets and cannons being fired, throw a tomahawk, buy hand-made crafts, learn about French kitchen gardens, taste delicious food and much more. This year’s event also recognizes 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. In celebration of this milestone anniversary and the important history it represents, a special ceremony will be held Saturday morning of the event following opening colors at 9 a.m.
For a list of event donors, please visit the Donate page of this website.
Celebrating the 300th Anniversary of Fort de Chartres
2020 heralds 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 commences a $100,000 Capital Project Repair Giving Campaign for the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site in 2020. Funds raised for this campaign would go toward the much needed repairs at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, located in Prairie du Rocher, IL, with a focus on 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 Fort de Chartres Capital Project Repair Giving Campaign begins this January and a related 300th Anniversary special ceremony is to be held at the annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous, celebrating its golden anniversary on the rescheduled date of September 12 & 13, 2020.The 300th Anniversary ceremony invitations have been sent to dignitaries, campaign donors, and other supporters across the state and nation. Fort de Chartres State Historic Site’s 50th Annual Rendezvous, the largest gathering of its kind anywhere in the Midwest, attracts many thousands to the site during this two-day special event. The event will be expanded this year, in celebration of its golden anniversary.
A major public relations campaign for the event is being coordinated with Illinois South Tourism, the marketing arm for 22 counties across the state of Illinois. Join us as we celebrate the Fort de Chartres 300th anniversary milestone!
If you would like to contribute to the 2020 Fort de Chartres Capital Project Repair Giving Campaign or the 50th Annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous, you can click on the above logos for the PayPal donation links. If you would like to donate by mail, please make a notation on the check to either 50th/300th Event or Repair Campaign, then mail to Les Amis du Fort de Chartres, PO Box 366, Prairie du Rocher, IL 62277.
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 Capital Project Giving Campaign in honor of the 300th Anniversary of the first Fort de Chartres:
$10,000 Pledge-Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Illinois
$1000-Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Missouri
$1320-300th T-Shirts Sales
$720 300th Souvenir Mugs
$300 Vicki Kehrer
Under $50-Anne Brewster, John Hunt, Diana Mueller, Anna Poling, Tiffany Woods
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 Wednesday – 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.
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.
Please note: Fort de Chartres State Historic Site is now re-open to the public after months of closure due to the closing of the Prairie du Rocher flood gates and area flooding. We welcome visitors return to the site and look forward to our Fall Special Events at Fort de Chartres! For more information about scheduled Special Events, please view the event information at the bottom of this page or visit the event page of this website or our Facebook Special Events listings.
We thank the Levee Commissioners, federal, state and local governments and agencies, and area residents and businesses for their hard work protecting this historic area.
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.
FORT DE CHARTRES 2020 SCHEDULE OF SPECIAL EVENTS
Colonial Trade Faire and Musket & Rifle Frolic at FdC- April 4-April 5-Cancelled!
It is with our deepest regret to inform you that due to current IDNR site restrictions in relation to the Coronavirus, the April Trade Faire at Fort de Chartres, April 4th & 5th, 2020 is cancelled this year. The Kaskaskia Company greatly apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause. We were really looking forward to seeing everyone this year, guess it will have to wait another year unfortunately.
Please stay tuned for further details on event refunds. Thanks.-The Kaskaskia Company
Kids’ Day at FdC-May 2 Cancelled
French Colonial Gardens Driving Tour-June 14 Cancelled
50th Annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous at FdC-September 12 & 13 (Rescheduled dates)
Cannon Firing Demonstration at FdC-Cancelled
Friends of the Fort Summer Ball-Cancelled
Annual FdC French & Indian War Encampment at FdC-October 10 & 11
Fort de Chartres Winter Rendezvous at FdC-November 7 & 8
Prairie du Rocher La Guianne at FdC-December 31
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.
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
Today’s warm weather and sunshine are bittersweet, as normally The Kaskaskia Company and Les Amis du Fort de Chartres would be busy presenting the Colonial Trade Faire and Musket &Rifle Frolic. But Mother... Read More