The Windows Project

Help Restore the Weir House!

The Windows Project is part of a $2 million renovation of the historic 1836 Weir House which has been home to the Madison County Historical Museum since 1964.

Black and white photo of the Weir House

MCHS is asking Madison County residents to adopt one or more of the 31 Weir House windows as a restoration project honoring their Madison County family or in memory of a family member. The average cost is $2,400 each to restore the historic window and manufacture a protective storm window to protect it. A plaque listing the honored families will be displayed in the renovated museum when it reopens.  A full letter about the Windows Project is available for download here.

Because the Weir House is on the National Register of Historic Places, the exterior of the building will be restored according to National Register Standards. The interior will be converted to eight exhibit galleries that tell the story of Madison County using artifacts and photographs from the MCHS collections.

Please consider a donation to the Windows Project or the restoration of the Weir House.

Leclaire Parkfest

Leclaire Parkfest logo

Join MCHS at 26th Annual Leclaire Parkfest on Sunday, October 15th from noon to 5 pm at Leclaire Park on Hale Avenue in Edwardsville, IL. The festival features three bands: Dixieland Jazz by the St. Louis Levee Band Trio (Noon – 2:30 pm), followed by Bluegrass and other old time folk music from the Lodge Brothers (2:30 pm-5 pm) at the bandstand. On the east side of the park, Mike Zanger & Friends will play Americana music (1 pm-3:30 pm). A Wine and Beer Garden is complimented by a wide variety of delicious festival food provided by local non-profit organizations. Local artisans and crafters will have their work on display and available for purchase. Games, pet adoptions, vintage cars and tractors and other family activities provide something for every age. The St. Andrew’s Relay for Life Team will host the annual Leclaire Parkfest book sale with thousands of books available at bargain prices. Exhibits of historic photos and narrated trolley tours tell the unique story of the Leclaire National Historic District. For additional information, call 618-656-1294 or visit the Friends of Leclaire web site at



Friends of Leclaire (FOL) has hosted the popular Leclaire Parkfest every third Sunday in October since 1990. Located on the tree-lined grounds of beautiful Leclaire Park at Hale Avenue, the famous Leclaire Parkfest is one of Edwardsville’s signature festivals.


Parking for Leclaire Parkfest is available at Leclaire School on Franklin Avenue (2 blocks east of the festival), at the Historic Nelson Campus of LCCC (3 blocks north of the festival) or on the streets of Leclaire.

Proceeds benefit the community development and philanthropic activities of Friends of Leclaire.

Adventurers, Crusaders, and Entrepreneurs: The Women of Illinois Route 66

Cheryl Eichar Jett will present a program on the bold women who became part of the Illinois legend of Route 66 for the Madison County Historical Society. The presentation will be held on Sunday, October 1 at 2 p.m. at the Madison County Archival Library at 801 N. Main Street in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Historic Route 66 Road Sign

The women of Illinois 66 included entrepreneurs who ran theaters, ballrooms, motels and restaurants as well as many divergent personalities and talents from the adventurous Gypsy Coeds to the crusading Mother Jones. Jett tells the tales of these women who worked along Illinois’s 300 miles of Route 66. A slide show accompanies Jett’s presentation on the women and their contributions to what we celebrate as the culture of Route 66.

Jett is a nationally recognized authority on Route 66 and the author of six books, four of them on America’s favorite highway. She is a regular contributor to several regional publications including The 66 News, the Route 66 Association of Illinois magazine, and a regular column on Route 66 in the Prairie Land Buzz. She is currently working on a book about women on historic Route 66 and is presenting programs and producing magazine articles based on her research in advance of the book’s publication. She blogs about her travels and research at Jett is also an award-winning writ­er of short fiction.

Jett holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in his­tory from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She lives in Edwardsville, and currently serves on the board of directors of Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway and as president of the (Illinois Route 66) Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition.

MCHS programs are free and open to the public. Regular hours at the Madison County Archival Library are Wed – Fri, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sun, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. The Madison County Historical Museum is currently closed for renovations. For additional information, call 618-656-7569.

Lincoln Place Heritage Festival

Lincoln Place Entrance Marker

Join MCHS at the Lincoln Place Heritage Festival on Saturday, September 23, 2017 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Lincoln Place Community Center in Granite City.

Celebrate the varied cultures of the historic Lincoln Place neighborhood at this family friendly event.  Admission is free and parking is free.  Immigrant cultures represented include Macedonia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Hungary, Mexico, Croatia, Russia, England, Ireland, and Scotland.

Some of what you can expect and appreciate include:

Ethnic foods and pastries
Ethnic folk dancers and folk music
Open folk dancing led by the University City Folk Dance Troupe
Displays of photographs, historical artifacts, and oral histories
Costumes of Eastern Europe
Lincoln Place quilt display
Macedonian beadwork demonstration
Numerous product vendors, crafters, jewelry, and old fashioned candy
Face painting, balloon craft, a juggler, and a magic show
Children’s book sale
Appalachian Mountain dulcimer, Celtic harp, and country fiddle
Strong man demonstration and competition
Apple pie baking contest (open to all)

No pets, alcohol, smoking, coolers, glass containers, outside food or drink permitted in the Lincoln Place Community Center or the surrounding park.

Directions: I-270 to IL Rte. 3 South to Niedringhaus Ave., Granite City, IL
Or McKinley Bridge to Rte. 3 North to Niedringhaus Ave., Granite City, IL
Questions? Call Lincoln Place Heritage Association, 618-451-2611.

Steel and Solidarity in Granite City

Local labor union historian Gary Gaines will give a program on the Steelworkers Unions on Sunday, September 10 at 2 p.m. at the Madison County Archival Library at 801 N. Main Street in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Gary Gaines
Gary Gaines.

According to Gaines, steelmaking in Granite City was almost an accident. The Niedringhaus brothers started their business across the river, but St. Louis leaders didn’t like the noise, dirt or the smell of the factories. When it was time to expand, the Niedringhaus brothers purchased 3,500 acres of inexpensive ground in Illinois. The area was a farming community known then as Kinderhook that eventually became Granite City, named for their product, graniteware. This is the story of how they built their small enamel cookware business into a sprawling steel mill that, unfortunately, to­day sits partly idle.

It is also the story of how the men they hired brought their old craft guild skills and values to the job, and formed union lodges beginning in 1899. At the same time that Andrew Carnegie and other industrialists were destroying unions in their mills, the lodges flourished in Granite City. The union men, with the approval of the company that built the town, took over city govern­ment and “socialism” ruled for nearly thirty years during the early history of Granite City.

Presenter Gary Gaines is a life-long resident of the Granite City area and a third generation steelworker who was first hired at Granite City Steel in 1970. His grandfa­ther Louis Madsen was a founding member of the union there. His father, an uncle, wife Norma, two brothers, and three cousins have been employed there. He retired in 2008 from the Security Department.

During his employment he also served in every elected position in his local union of security officers and was elected Financial Secretary when five local unions in the plant merged. He also served as a health and safety rep­resentative for many years and travelled to other USW sites to train workers. Upon his retirement, he was the senior peer trainer for the entire union.

MCHS programs are free and open to the public. Regular hours at the Madison County Archival Library are Wed – Fri, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sun, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. The Madison County Historical Museum is currently closed for renovations. For additional information, call 618-656-7569.

Jon Parkin Named Superintendent of County Museum

Contact: Cindy Reinhardt
Madison County Historical Society
715 N. Main Street Edwardsville, IL 62025
Phone: 618-656-1294
03 Jul 2017

An award-winning educator, Jon L. Parkin, of Edwardsville, has been hired as Superintendent of the Madison County Historical Museum and Archival Library in Edwardsville. Parkin began working in the position part-time on June 5. After fulfilling a commitment to teach a summer class for Edwardsville School District 7, he moved to full-time employment in July.

Parkin, 60, grew up in Evanston, Illinois, but has spent more than half his life in Madison County. As a Social Studies teacher at Edwardsville High School, he has a reputation as a creative and innovative educator. He hopes his new position will give him a fresh venue for creating educational opportunities for students in Madison County by providing the tools teachers need to make history relevant and exciting.

Parkin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from Roosevelt University, Chicago, and a Master of Science degree in Geography from SIUE. He has taught high school students the lessons of history, civics, sociology and geography since 1992. Along the way he has mentored 12 student teachers.

He looks forward to the opportunity to learn even more about Madison County’s history and share that knowledge with area residents, especially students. An avid historian, Parkin belongs to numerous historical organizations, regularly participates in re-enactments depicting life during the War of 1812 and/or the Civil War, and served on the Edwardsville Historic Preservation Commission and on the Goshen Preservation Alliance board.

When asked what most appealed to him regarding his new position, Parkin said, “I love to teach, but I am always looking for opportunities to learn.” In 2003 he became one of only two District 7 teachers to obtain National Board Certification. In 2008, he was one of nine candidates nation-wide to participate in the Library of Congress Ambassador Network of Teachers, a program that promotes the use of primary sources in research. He was also one of two local teachers to receive the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award in 2012.

Parkin takes on his new position at a time when the museum is closed for renovations. His most pressing task is to create a timeline of what needs to be done and work with Madison County and the Madison County Historical Society Board to re-open the Madison County Historical Museum as soon as possible.

Parkin is married to the former Vera Jones, a native of Edwardsville, whom he met while she attended Northwestern University in Evanston. They have two adult children.

The museum has not had a permanent director since the November 30 retirement of long-time Superintendent Suzanne Dietrich. Since then, Mary Westerhold, Archival Library Research Manager, has been serving as Interim Superintendent in addition to her other duties. Until the museum renovations are completed, Parkin can be found in his temporary office at the Madison County Archival Library at 801 N. Main Street.


Herb Gardening

Master gardeners Julie Hamilton and Ellen Nore of the Edwardsville Garden Club will present a program on current and historical uses of herbs.


Garden near museum.

On Sunday, May 21, the Madison County Historical Society will welcome master gardeners Julie Hamilton and Ellen Nore of the Edwardsville Garden Club who will present a program on current and historical uses of herbs. The program will begin at 2 p.m. at the Madison County Archival Library at 801 North Main Street in Edwardsville and conclude with a tour of the Madison County Historical Museum’s herb garden. The garden was installed and has been maintained by the Edwardsville Garden Club since 1994.

Herbs have been harvested for medicinal, culinary and household uses for centuries. For example, they can enhance the flavor of foods, ease pain, or be used as an insect repellant. The aromatic properties of herbs also make them useful in sachets, perfumes or scented lotions.

After the program, the presenters will answer questions about herbs and distribute handouts and a limited number of sample plants. The Madison County Archival Library is located at 801 N. Main Street in Edwardsville. Regular hours are Wednesday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. The Madison County Historical Museum is currently closed for renovations.