A Special Feature of Southwest Illinois News
The historic town of Lebanon, located 23 miles east of St. Louis, was founded in the spring of 1804 by William H. Bradsby during the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition. McKendree College, founded in 1828, is the oldest existing college in Illinois. The college is located in the northwest section of Lebanon. Nearby, Horner Park, a 58-acre tract of land with old growth trees, features a five acre fishing lake, tennis courts, soccer field, two baseball diamonds and a short nature walk.
In the late 1890's, Lebanon was known as a resort town with wealthy families from St. Louis building summer homes or staying in the hotels. Today, the historic town still remains as an electic community with cultural events, the Looking Glass Playhouse, Locust Hills, an 18-hole golf course.
In April, Dickens Days celebrates Charles Dickens' stay at the Mermaid Inn in 1842. Built in 1830 as a hotel, the House has been restored by the Lebanon Historical Society. While visiting the Looking Glass Prairie, Dicken's documented his visit in "American Notes." Many believe that Dickens' "Christmas Carol" was also based on his stay.
Visitors can enjoy stepping back in time while walking along Belleville Street to see a variety of architectural styles from Greek Revival, Gothic, Italinate, English Country, Queen Anne, Georgian and Southern Colonial. Tours of the historic sites of the Governor Augustus French House and the Mermaid House are available year round.
Shoppers from neighboring communities often spend weekends browsing through more than 20 specialty, antique, gift and craft shops along St. Louis Street or dining at one of the many unique restaurants.
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