Welcome to Indiana’s Territorial Past, located in Vincennes and Knox County.

Indiana’s first city is the perfect getaway for history enthusiasts.

‘History’ Category

New Architecture Tour


The George Rogers Clark NHP has a new tour of the Clark Memorial.  Visit the site to find out what the symbols inside the memorial mean, what stone was used to build the monument, the significance of the marble inside the memorial and much more!  Tours of the site are free but donations are accepted.  The park is open daily from 9am to 5pm.  For more information on the park visit, https://www.nps.gov/gero/index.htm

Rendezvous in Vincennes This Weekend

The Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous is this weekend!  Hours for Saturday the 27th are 9am to 6pm and Sunday the 28th are 10am to 5pm.  Battle times on Saturday are 1pm and 4pm and Sunday are noon and 3:30pm.  The event will feature an encampment, entertainment, period food, merchant vendors and demonstrations.  For more information call the Visitors Bureau at 800.886.6443.

 

Rendezvous Buttons

The Rendezvous returns for its 41st year over Memorial Day weekend, May 27th through the 28th.  This years event will boast as much food, merchants and entertainment as years past.  Check out the encampment and interact with re-enactors of the American Revolutionary period.  Enjoy music, jugglers, children’s games and more.  The food is always a crowd pleaser, sample foods such as creek fried potatoes or a buffalo burger.  Shop the merchants featuring wares from the period.  Battle enactments daily.  Saturday evening the Vincennes State Historic Sites and Grouseland will have candlelight tours.  Stop by the Visitors Bureau, 779 South 6th Street, to purchase a two day button for $9.  Buttons are also available the Knox County Chamber and local banks.  For more information or a schedule of events please visit, http://spiritofvincennes.org/

Indiana Military Museum

The Indiana Military Museum boast one of the most comprehensive collections of military artifacts in the Mid-west.  The museum is anticipating its busiest year since its move to the downtown location in 2012.  The museum is expecting two important additions to its displays this year.  The USS Indianapolis Nuclear Sub Monument will be arriving by late May.  With the Indianapolis Conning Tower and Sail along with the redevelopment of the body of the sub from black pigmented concrete, the museum will be able to honor the men and women who have served in silent service.  This monument has been sponsored in whole by the Submarine Veterans Association.

The museum will also be completing and dedicating its 2 ½ year restoration project on the M-1917 tank.  The date for the dedication has been set for November 2nd at 6:30p.m. at Highland Woods Community Center.  General Patton’s grandson, George Patton Waters, will be guest speaker for the banquet to be held then.  Governor Holcomb is also expected to attend.  The ceremony has been recognized by the Indiana WWI Centennial Committee and the National WWI Centennial Commission as a significantlyrecognized WWI Centennial activity.

The museum is also offering honorary ownership in track pads, which are necessary to be recast for the WWI tank project.  For $250 a pad, any interested party or organization can purchase one toward the required 64.  With this ownership, the donor will receive a document with serial number and correspondence to the track pad itself. which will be signed by General Patton’s grandson and a photo with George Patton Waters will also be available at the dedication ceremony on November 2nd.

The museum is also preparing for the implementation of its $250,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development which will allow 23,000 square feet of the museum’s current warehouse facility to be converted to a permanent exhibit diorama depicting scenes from WWI through the Vietnam War.  As soon as the museum can raise the funds necessary to complete a storage building to accommodate the displaced artifacts, work equipment, and workshop that was currently housed in the warehouse, the restoration project will begin.  It is anticipated that the projected shall be completed within 14 months of that date.

The museum will also extend its hours on Rendezvous weekend – opening at 10:00a.m. and closing at 5:30pm each day.

Submitted by Museum Curator, Jim Osborne

Grouseland

Grouseland is the former home of William Henry Harrison and his family during his term as Governor of the Indiana Territory, 1803-1812.  The two and half story plantation style mansion served as the centerpiece of territorial government and society.  Grouseland houses a collection of artifacts from Harrison’s life and Indiana’s early settlement period.  Harrison went on to become the 9th President of the United States.

Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy

Summertime is Fun Time at the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy!  With over 3500 sq. ft. of fun and laughter, this interactive museum is great for kids of all ALL ages!  Experience Red’s legacy of laughter as you trace his life and career from his humble beginnings in Vincennes, Indiana to his rise to super stardom as a comedian and star of radio, TV and film.  Visitors will pantomime with Red on a green screen, create a virtual clown face, and enter sound effects into some of his radio shows.  Pictures and letters from Red’s personal collection abound in this comprehensive museum. TV’s throughout the museum play clips from Red’s TV shows and movies.  The museum showcases the original costumes Red wore during the 20 year span of “The Red Skelton Show” along with a special exhibit dedicated to his iconic Pledge of Allegiance.  Red was a creative genius and the Red Skelton Museum has a gallery of some of his original paintings, musical compositions, and original stories.  There is truly something for everyone at the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy.  Whether you are a longtime fan or just learning about Red Skelton for the first time, take some time to visit and spend the day laughing with Red and some of his characters including, Freddie the Freeloader, Clem Kadiddlehopper and Sheriff Deadeye.  Don’t miss the Red Skelton Festival on Saturday, July 15, 2017!

Submitted by Red Skelton President, Anne Pratt

George Rogers Clark National Historical Park

Vincennes became the center of the struggle on the frontier between Great Britain and the United States. Fort Sackville, which sat where the Clark Memorial does today, was captured by American Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark in February 1779. The fort’s capture assured the claims of the United States on the Northwest Territory, land that eventually became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the eastern portion of Minnesota. The battle at Vincennes included about 170 men fighting on the American side, and about 75 on the British side. Despite these numbers, the Clark Memorial today stands as one of the largest monuments on a battlefield in the United States. The memorial also sits on the site of two other forts built both before and after Fort Sackville. French fur traders established a trading post in 1732 to take advantage of the lucrative beaver trade in the area. Almost 40 years after the American Revolution, a new fort was built on the site of the old French trading post and Fort Sackville, today it is known as Fort Knox III.

The memorial building contains seven murals and a statue of George Rogers Clark. It was completed in 1933 and dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. The basement of the memorial struggled with leaks for many years which caused the formation of stalagmites and stalactites, which were remedied by a 2008-2009 restoration project. It now stands as a silent reminder of the accomplishments of Clark and his frontiersmen. The building and the 26 acres around it became part of the National Park Service on July 23, 1966.

Submitted by Park Ranger, Jason Collins

Vincennes State Historic Sites

In honor of National Tourism Week this week we are featuring a different local attraction every day this week.  Today we give you the Vincennes State Historic Sites.  The sites manage five properties locally including the Territorial Capitol site, the Old State Bank, Fort Knox II, Sugarloaf Mound and most recently acquired the Old French House.  The Michel Brouillet home, commonly referred to as the Old French House, is the last contact Vincennes has to its original French roots.  The French established a fort in Vincennes in 1730 to protect their fur trade interests.  Built in 1809, the home was constructed by Michel Brouillet a fur trader and merchant.  The home is unique do to the unusual building technique employed.  It is an excellent example of a French Creole cottage.  The technique used is called “poteaux sur sole” (post on sill) construction.  Unlike the well-known Anglo-American log cabin with its horizontal logs, the French Creole cabin uses fourteen-foot upright posts, spaced about a foot and a half apart and fitted into a horizontal beam called a sill.  They are mortised together and held into place with wooden pegs.  The logs are capped on top by another horizontal beam called a plate.  Between each of the upright posts, the walls are filled with a mixture of mud and prairie grass called “bousillage”.  This acts as insulation for the home.  The walls where then coated, both inside and out, with rough plaster made of sand and quicklime.  Once the plaster was set, the walls are whitewashed.  Large porches called “galleries” protected the plaster from the weather.  These porches then acted as extensions of the living room during the hot summer months.

The house has four main rooms: the living room, two bedrooms, and a summer kitchen.  The home also has a loft and a dug out cellar.  The French House was occupied continuously until 1975.  At that time the house was acquired by the Old Northwest Corporation, who then took on the task of restoring the building to how it looked in 1809.  The home, which sets in its original location, is now owned by the Vincennes State Historic Sites, part of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites Corp., and is available for tours.

Submitted by Site Manager, David Weaver

Rainy Day Ideas

Don’t let this weekend’s forecast dampen your spirits, there’s plenty to do in Vincennes/Knox County while it’s raining.  We have compiled a list of ideas to get you started.

 

Brush up on your Indiana history by visiting our local historic sites including the George Rogers Clark NHP, Grouseland – Wm. H. Harrison Mansion and Museum and the Vincennes State Historic Sites.

Tickle your funny bone at the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy.  The 3500 square foot fully interactive museum is fun for all ages.

Go on a treasure hunt at our local antique stores.

Get some retail therapy by shopping downtown in our Main Street shops.

Take the day off from the kitchen and have lunch or dinner at one of local restaurants.

Warm up with a cup of coffee at Impressed.  Bring a book or your laptop and stay awhile.

Feed your creative side at the downtown art galleries; Art Space, Northwest Territory Art Guild and the Open Gallery.

Visit our local winery, Windy Knoll, for wine tasting, a glass of wine or a wine slushie.  Browse their gift shop for gifts any wine enthusiast would appreciate.

Visit Melon Acres or the Melon Patch for fresh, local asparagus, yummy!  The Melon Patch also has gift shop and the Delish Deli.

Halter’s Market is now open for the season carrying garden plants and flowers.

Vacation in your backyard at the newly opened Reily Home Bed and Breakfast located on the corner of 8th and Buntin, rent a room for the night for night away from home.

Practice your golf swing at Waggoner Farms Driving Range featuring covered and heated teeing areas

Visit the Knox County Public Library to check out books and DVD’s.  Curl up in the sun room and read it there.

Check out one of the most comprehensive collections of military artifacts at the Indiana Military Museum

 

Don’t let the rain keep you indoors or away, get out and explore all that Knox County has to offer.

 

President’s in Knox County

In honor of President’s Day, Knox County acknowledges the Presidents who graced us with their presence.  William Henry Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory and later the 9th U.S. President. His home, Grouseland, remains open to the public in Vincennes. It is said that President Abraham Lincoln stayed in two different homes in Vincennes around the 1840’s.  Local attorney, Cyrus Allen was a personal friend of his and Lincoln was a guest at the Allen Mansion, now Gardner-Brockman Funeral Home.  Vincennes Mayor, Abner T. Ellis, hosted Lincoln while he was in town campaigning for Henry Clay.  Today the Harmony Society occupies the Ellis Mansion.  In June of 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Vincennes to dedicate the George Rogers Clark Memorial.  In July of 1966, Lyndon Johnson came to the Memorial for a celebration designating the site as a member of the National Park Service.

Vincennes’ own Red Skelton had contact with many Presidents throughout his career.  The Red Skelton Museum has a special exhibit highlighting those events open until March 31st.  There will be a reception on Monday, February 20th from 5pm to 7pm.

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