FRONTIER INDIANA

 

 

 

This is where Indiana had its beginnings: where Chief Tecumseh walked; where the first governor of the Indiana Territory and ninth president of the United States lived and worked; where troops mustered for the Battle of Tippecanoe.

Vincennes and the Indiana Territory

 

Founded in 1732 when what is now the Midwest belonged to France, Vincennes is Indiana’s oldest city. France lost the area to Great Britain, which in turn lost it to the Americans in the Revolutionary War. Congress created the Indiana Territory in 1800, with Vincennes as its capital. The new territory was much larger than the State of Indiana today, including what is now Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota.

 

It was at Vincennes that Governor William Henry Harrison and others made decisions that influenced the future of the whole Midwest. Westward migration meant conflict with Native Americans who had a different view of land ownership and use. It meant enormous land sales, the creation of new counties and, later, new states out of the Indiana Territory. 

 

Indiana
Territory Capitol

 

Built in 1805 as a tailor shop, the “Red House” is a small two-story building, its heavy timber frame held together with wooden pegs.

In 1805, Indiana Territory went to the second stage of government and elected representatives. From its very beginning, Indiana had a bicameral (two house) legislature. A Legislative Council (or Senate) of five men used the upstairs room, while the nine-man House of Representatives used the downstairs room. The “Red House” was one of three buildings rented by the legislature from 1805 to 1813, and was the meeting place of the legislature in 1811, after the Battle of Tippecanoe. In 1813, the territorial government moved to Corydon, which became Indiana’s first state capital when Indiana became a state in 1816.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jefferson Academy

The Jefferson Academy tells the story of early public education. Founded in 1801 by Governor Harrison, it was the first school of higher learning in Indiana. In 1806, it became Vincennes University. Thomas Jefferson and William Henry Harrison are the only two presidents who have established colleges. Headmaster of the school was the village priest, Father Jean Francois Rivet, former professor of Latin at the Royal College of Limoges, France. Classes took place in the main room of the church rectory, with subjects such as Latin, geometry and geography.

 

Elihu Stout Print Shop

Elihu Stout’s Print Shop represents the power of communication in westward expansion. As the country expanded westward, the distribution of information was crucial to the formation of states. In 1804, Gov. William Henry Harrison brought Elihu Stout to Vincennes to print the laws of the Indiana Territory. Stout also printed the laws the legislature enacted to govern the new Louisiana Purchase lands. In July of 1804, Stout started the Indiana Gazette, the first newspaper in Indiana, which ran for 41 years. Previously, Stout had been a journeyman printer with the Kentucky Gazette in Lexington, Kentucky.

 

Fort Knox II

Fort Knox II Site was an important military outpost used by the United States Army from 1803 to 1813. Captain Zachary Taylor strengthened Fort Knox with a stockade in 1811. Governor William Henry Harrison “mustered” (assembled) his army at Fort Knox II and marched up the Wabash River to the Battle of Tippecanoe at Prophetstown (near present-day Lafayette, Ind.) on Nov. 7, 1811.

Sugar Loaf Mound

Sugar Loaf Mound is a natural feature that Late Woodland Indians used as a burial mound around 900 A.D. Travelers heading to Vincennes along the Buffalo Trace from Louisville used it as a landmark. The mound also served as a marker along the Underground Railroad for slaves seeking freedom in the North.

 

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Old State Bank


The Old State Bank helped transform Indiana from a fur-trade to agricultural economy. On Feb. 13, 1834, the Indiana General Assembly chartered the Second State Bank of Indiana, with headquarters in Indianapolis and 12 branches across the state. In addition to Vincennes, the other branches were in Indianapolis, Lawrenceburg, Richmond, New Albany, Madison, Evansville, Bedford, Terre Haute, Lafayette, Fort Wayne and South Bend.

In Vincennes, the bank began business immediately in a rented building located on First Street between Main and Vigo Streets. The State Bank moved into this building upon its completion in November 1838. The bank is in the Greek Revival style, made to look like the front of a Greek temple. The main room of the bank features six fluted columns, more than 30 feet tall, supporting a bell-shaped cupola and a hand-riveted steel vault.

VISIT

 

Vincennes State Historic Sites
HOURS

 Vincennes State Historic sites are open year-round!
Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Closed on Sundays.

TICKETS 

Purchase admission tickets at the Log Cabin Visitor’s Center.

Adults $5
Seniors* $4
Children* $2
Children under 3 FREE

 

Indiana State Museum members get FREE admission and a 10 percent discount in the gift shop!

*Child: ages 3 through 12
*Senior: age 60 and older

DIRECTIONS AND PARKING


Get directions to the Vincennes State Historic Sites.

Where to park
Parking is available in the Vincennes University Parking Lot across 1st street in spots designated Historic Sites Parking, or on Scott Street behind the site.

 

 

Mystery on the Wabash Dinner Theatre

February 20 
7 - 9 p.m. 
$75 per couples over 21 years of age
 

The program will involve couples signing up and receiving special invitations, complete with an assigned character.

 

Each couple will get to represent an important figure in local history. Couples will learn about important local figures and those represented by other couples. 

 

A nice dinner with wine will launch the program and mingling with follow. Then, suddenly, a "murder" will occur and couples must follow given directions and work to solve the crime.

 

Those who close the case will be awarded a certificate and a small prize.


 
Easter Egg Hunt and Open House

March 6
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Free
 

We will use the grounds behind our main site location as the field for the Easter egg hunt. Candy filled eggs will be hidden throughout this area. The children will hunt for and gather a specified number of eggs.

 

We will also provide simple games for the children and will utilize this public event to teach a little about local history.

 

Our site building will be available for walk through traffic.

 

This with be an open and free program for the community.

 

 


 
Old French Open House and Reception

 

May 20
6 - 8 p.m.
Donations appreciated
 

Celebrate the transfer of the Old French House to the Vincennes State Historic Site.


The program will involved presentations about the French history in Vincennes, French food of the time and French music of the time.

 

This program will also function as an open house and an opportunity to recruit new "friends group" members, display our yearly programs and detail our plans for the Old French House.

Contact us

 

STAFF

David Weaver
Site Manager
dweaver@indianamuseum.org

John Mays
Program Developer
cmays@indianamuseum.org

Richard Day
Historian
rday@indianamuseum.org

Vincennes State Historic Sites

1 West Harrison St.
Vincennes, IN 47591

 

Phone: 812.882.7422
Fax: 812.882.0928
Email: vincennesshs@indianamuseum.org

EDUCATION EVENTS & STANDARDS

AT VINCENNES S.H.S.

 

If you are looking for the place where Indiana had its beginning; where Chief Tecumseh walked; where the first governor of the Indiana Territory and ninth president of the United States lived and worked; where troops mustered for the Battle of Tippecanoe; where laws were passed that still affect Indiana residents today; and where the first free press in Indiana was born, then plan a visit to the Vincennes State Historic Sites.

Academic topics covered:

  • Indiana Territorial History 
  • Early Indiana Statehood 
  • Native American History 
  • French Language 
  • Financial Literacy 
  • Diversity 
  • Architecture 
  • Nature 

 

Grades K – 12

Vincennes State Historic Sites Tour 
 
 

Historical characters will guide you through the buildings and sites. Students will discover the early years of Vincennes and Indiana by learning about early education at the Jefferson Academy, beginnings of Indiana law at the Territory Capital
Building, and experience the art of printing at the Elihu Stout Print Shop.