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.
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.
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.
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.
Vincennes State Historic sites are open year-round!
Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed on Sundays.
Purchase admission tickets at the Log Cabin Visitor’s Center.
|Children under 3||FREE|
Indiana State Museum members and members of other State Historic Sites Friends Groups 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
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.
Vincennes History Class
Sept. 8, 15, 22, 29
Discover the rich history of Indiana’s first city, Vincennes. Historian Richard Day and guest presenters engage participants in topics of Vincennes history from prehistoric days to the present.
A Day in the Life at Fort Knox II
Sept. 18 - 19
Discover the day-to-day life of the men and women at Fort Knox II Military Encampment, c. 1812 in Vincennes. Students in 8th grade will learn about military life, women’s roles, foods, flora and fauna, and early surveying. This program covers language arts, history, science and math.
Oct. 17, 18, 14 & 25
Meet characters from Vincennes history and hear the chilling tales of life and death on the early Indiana frontier. Hear first-hand accounts from soldiers at Fort Knox, Native Americans, river travelers as they uncover the secrets of Fort Knox. There will be a No Scare (6 – 7 p.m.) and a Full Scare portion of the program (7 – 10 p.m.). The last tours will start at 9:30 p.m.
Muster on the Wabash
Visit Fort Knox II to commemorate Harrison's muster of troops prior to the Prophetstown campaign and Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. Enjoy interactive events, more than 150 period re-enactors of the war of 1812, demonstrations, skits, merchandise and food.
Vincennes State Historic Sites
1 West Harrison St.
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
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
Old State Bank
Built in the Greek Revival style architecture, the Old State Bank is perfect for groups of 50 to 60 people.
Fort Knox II
The grounds which William Henry Harrison assembled his army and marched up the Wabash River to the Battle of Tippecanoe is a great site for very large gatherings.
Territory Capitol Site
Rent Vincennes State Historic Site in it's entirety. The Indiana Territory Capitol Site is perfect for very large gatherings.
For more information email David Weaver or call 812.882.7422.