Visitor's Guide to Edwardsville, Illinois


Visitors Guide to
Madison County, Illinois

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Edwardsville, founded in 1816, is the third oldest existing city in the State of Illinois and the county seat of Madison County. Named after Illinois Governor Ninian Edwards (1826-1830), Edwardsville was the residence of 5 former governors of the state. The town’s first brick structure was the two story home of Edwards’ political protégé Colonel Benjamin Stephenson. Built in 1820, this two-story brick home served as a meeting place for the town’s influential citizens, many who held high positions in the Federal Government.

In 1890, N. O. Nelson relocated his plumbing and fixture factory on the outskirts of Edwardsville. Around this factory, he constructed his own model company town based on the principles of the cooperation movement and profit sharing between owners and laborers. Workers chose the name for this town, Leclaire, after Edmund Leclaire of France, one of the pioneers of profit sharing. The town ultimately occupied 150 acres and included an abundance of educational and recreational activities. Route 66, the official designation of the interconnecting roads from Chicago to Los Angeles passed through Edwardsville. Although Route 66 has disappeared from this area, markers still guide interested travelers along the route.

Edwardsville is also the home of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Established in 1957, SIUE has recently experienced much growth and expansion, and currently has an enrollment of about 12,000 students. Consisting of a total of 2,660 acres just southwest of downtown Edwardsville, the beautiful SIUE campus has one of the largest campuses in the country and includes the 38 acre Myer Arboretum with an oak savannah area.

Edwardsville is rich in history, heritage, culture and architecture. The Edwardsville Historic Preservation Commission has designated 40 local landmarks including a number of historic homes. There are two districts on the National Historic Register. The Leclaire district encompasses N. O. Nelson's company town and the St. Louis district is a lovely tree lined street of private homes exhibiting a variety of architectural styles. The downtown area of Edwardsville has many commercial buildings built in the late 1800's exhibiting various styles of architecture.

Lewis and Clark
State Historic Site
Heritage Project
River Ferries
Sam Vadalabene
Bike Trail