Brimfield – Jubilee College State Historic Site will open its doors three times this summer so the public can explore an important but rarely seen part of the state’s heritage.
Visitors will get to see the frontier college’s L-shaped main building, erected nearly 175 years ago. The building housed the school’s chapel, classrooms and boys dormitory.
Volunteers will guide visitors through the main building and also help them explore the acres of prairie around the college. Activities include walks through a nearby cemetery and presentations on preserving Illinois prairies and attracting butterflies to the garden.
The dates and activities are:
* Friday, June 3: Docents will provide tours and historical information. Volunteers will discuss the famous people buried in the churchyard cemetery. Peoria County Master Gardeners offer advice on “How to Grow Butterflies in Your Garden,” while the Jubilee Prairie Dawgs (a prairie conservation group) conducts tours of the Jubilee prairie.
* Saturday, June 18: The Jubilee Churchyard Cemetery Association plans a cemetery walk as a fundraiser for maintenance and upkeep. Walks will be held at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at a cost of $6 for adults and $2 for children under 12.
* Saturday, August 6: Come celebrate “The Jewel in Your Backyard” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers will be present to share their knowledge about the college, its cemetery, gardening and the prairie.
The site has been closed for years because of state budget limitations, so these special events offer rare opportunities to visit a special place in the history of Illinois education.
Jubilee College was founded in 1839 by Philander Chase, the first Episcopal bishop for Illinois. Classes began the next year. It was more than a college. It also served as a prep school for boys, a seminary for young men and a seminary for girls. The school closed in 1862.
Jubilee College State Historic Site is located just northwest of Peoria, specifically two miles north of the intersection of Route 150 and the Jubilee-Princeville Road in Brimfield, Ill.
For more information about the site, visit www.IllinoisHistory.gov.