A Site with an Important Place in our State’s History!
Founded in 1732 in a part of the Midwest that belonged to France, Vincennes is Indiana’s oldest city. Over time, ownership of this town and area changed hands from France to Great Britain, and ultimately America following the Revolutionary War of 1776. In 1800, Congress created the Indiana Territory and named Vincennes 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. Here in Vincennes, Governor William Henry Harrison and others made important decisions that would influence the future of the entire Midwest.
Take a Walk Through History
Walk through Indiana’s oldest city, where territory officials made decisions that changed the future of the entire Midwest. Tour different buildings including the original Territory Capitol building, which was built in 1805, the Jefferson Academy – the first school of higher learning in the state – the Elihu Stout Print Shop, Fort Knox II, the Old French House and more.
The original Territory Capitol Building
Tour the original territorial capitol, which is considered the oldest major government building in the Midwest. 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. 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 1813, the territorial government moved to Corydon, which became Indiana’s first state capital when Indiana became a state in 1816.
THE FRENCH HOUSE
The French House is an original French Creole style home built circa 1809. It was the home of Michel Brouillet who was born in Vincennes in 1774 and spent most of his life working in the fur trade. During the War of 1812 he served as a scout and messenger between Vincennes and Fort Harrison, near Terre Haute, Indiana. The house is an excellent example of the kind of houses built by the French in the Mississippi Valley in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Unlike the American log cabin with horizontal logs, the French style uses upright posts fitted into a horizontal sill beam.
The Jefferson Academy, which was the first school of higher learning in Indiana and the predecessor of Vincennes University, 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. The 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 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.
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 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.
The 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 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.
Programs & Events
OUTDOOR PROGRAMMING SUPPORTED BY
A Look Around Town
Plan Your Trip
Wednesday – Sunday
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays*, Tuesdays, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Open *Martin Luther King Jr. Day (FREE), *President’s Day (FREE), *Memorial Day, *Labor Day.
Open for preregistered programs only on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, we are offering special timed tours for a limited number of people daily, Wednesday through Sunday. Guided tours of buildings are 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Outdoor tours of Fort Knox starting at the Visitor Center at 11:15 a.m.Building Tour Outdoor Tour
Walk up tour tickets are subject to availability. Purchasing online or by calling the site is recommended to ensure tour registration.
For groups of 15 or more, adult and youth tickets are $4. Group tickets must be purchased in person at the Log Cabin Visitor Center.
Special discounts are available for educators and education groups, military, Access Pass holders and more. View all discounts >>
Field trip admission is free for pre-scheduled, accredited schools and homeschool groups of 10 or more Indiana K-12 students. Call 812.882.7422 to schedule your visit.
Academic topics covered include Indiana territorial history, early Indiana statehood (1800-1816), Native American history, French language, financial literacy, diversity, architecture and nature.
Learn more about field trip and school program offerings in the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites PreK-12 Education Program Guide. View guide >>
If you are a photographer looking to book a shoot at Vincennes State Historic Site, please review our commercial photography policy and application process. Learn more >>
LOOKING TO BOOK A FIELD TRIP?
Help bring history, science, art and education to life for your students with a one-of-a-kind field trip experience. All state historic sites support Indiana Academic Standards, and feature a variety of academic topics. Call 812.882.7422 to schedule your visit to Vincennes.Learn More in Our Educator Program Guide
1 W. Harrison St. Vincennes, IN 47591
Vincennes State Historic Sites are located just yards from the Wabash River on Harrison Street. Parking is available on Scott Street or in the Vincennes University parking lot on First Street where there are parking places designated as “Historic Sites” parking. The 1830s log cabin serves as the sites’ Visitor Center.