Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fort de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher, Illinois

Fort de Chartres is located on Illinois Route 155, four miles west of Prairie du Rocher, the site marks the location of the last of three successive forts named "de Chartres" built by the French during their eighteenth-century colonial occupation of what is today Illinois.
Fort de Chartres Main Gate.
The first two forts were erected in the 1720s and were square palisaded wooden structures with corner bastions. The third fort, erected in the 1750s, was a massive square stone structure enclosing six buildings, including a still-standing powder magazine that may be the oldest building in Illinois. 


Main Gate Lookout.
This fort served as the French seat of government and its chief military installation in the Illinois Country. In 1763 France ceded much of its territory in North America, including 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.

Inside the fort are the "restored" powder magazine (portions of which are original), several reconstructed stone buildings, and the exposed foundations of other buildings, which have been "ghosted" in wood. 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
Restored Powder Magazine.
fort building, houses exhibits depicting French life at Fort de Chartres.
The large stone "Guards House," built 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.
Safe and sound inside the Fort looking at the main gate.
The site and its associated buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as a National Historic Landmark on October 15, 1966.

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