Vincennes Things to Do

  • Vincennes/Knox County Convention  Visitors Bureau
    Vincennes/Knox County Convention ...
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  • The Old Catherdral French & INdian Cemetery Marker
    The Old Catherdral French & INdian...
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  • George Rogers Clark Monument, Vincennes, IN
    George Rogers Clark Monument, Vincennes,...
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Best Rated Things to Do in Vincennes

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    George Rogers Clark National Historic Park

    by deecat Updated Jun 2, 2008

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    George Rogers Clark Monument, Vincennes, IN
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    The featured structure of this park is certainly the massive granite memorial commemorating the conquest of the Old Northwest Territory. It's located on the site of the former British Fort Sackville. This is where Colonel George Rogers Clark and his meager army of frontiersmen and Frenchmen captured the fort. [1779]. This is a very important date because it is when the United States north of the Ohio River was born.

    Supposedly, the George Rogers Clark Memorial is the largest memorial [outside of Washington, D.C.] in the USA. And what a memorial it is with huge murals of this even accompanied by a six-minute audio tape.

    During the 150th anniversary celebration of the American Revolution, the citizens of Vincennes, Knox County, and the State of Indiana wished to commemorate the vast accomplishments of George Rogers Clark. Congress created the George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission to build a memorial to celebrate this accomplishment.

    As you can see from the photograph, this memorial was built in classic Greek style with granite exterior that is encircled by 16 columns that support a massive round roof. [Photo #1]

    Inside is a bronze statue of George Rogers Clark standing on a marble pedestal.[Photo #2]

    A circular glass skylight does illuminate the inside. [Photo #4]

    Seven murals are used to depict Clark's role in the development of the region west of the Appalachians. [Photos # 3 and 5]
    I copied down what was engrave above these murals all the way around:

    "Great Things Have Been Effected By a Few Men Well Conducted. Our course is Just, Our Country Will Be Grateful"

    I was personally thrilled to see this wonderful site/sight. It's massive, beautiful, and symbolizes a bold adventure during the Revolutionary War.

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    Old Cathedral French & Indian Cemetery

    by deecat Updated Jun 3, 2008

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    The Old Cathedral French & Indian Cemetery dates from 1750 until 1845. It contains the graves [mostly unmarked] of some 4,000 inhabitants of early Vincennes, Indiana. These numbers include soldiers and patriots of the American Revolution who had helped Colonel George Rogers Clark in his capture of Fort Sackville in 1779.

    This same cemetery also marks the site of the log church where the people of Vincennes swore an oath of allegiance to the Republic of Virginia and the United States in 1778.

    The Old Cathedral and Cemetery's Location:
    The Vincennes Historic District
    Placed on the National Register of Histrical Places in 1974.

    Photographs:

    #1: walkway to view marked graves at the Old Cathedral French & Indian Cemetery.

    #2: The Historical Parker with information about the Old Cathedral French and Indian Cemetery.

    #3: Statue of Christ on the Cross at the end of the walkway.

    #4: Religious alcove prior to cemetery.

    #5: Sample grave in The Old Cathedral French and Indian Cemetery which reads:

    Joseph Dubois
    Continental Line
    Revolutionary War
    1762-1812

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    Red Skelton Performing Arts Center Tour

    by deecat Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Bust of Red Skelton
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    Both my sister Ronda and I are devoted Red Skelton fans. So, when we had the opportunity to take a tour of the new Red Skleton Performing Arts Center, we were thrilled.

    Richard Bernard "Red" Skelton was born in Vincennes, and his rbirth home is located at 111 Lyndale The Performing Arts Center is located just one block from his birthplace!.

    FREE tours of this $17 million dollar Performing Arts Center are given three times weekly:

    *Mondays and Fridays at 2:00 pm
    Wednesdays at 10:00 am

    The tour lasts about thirty minutes. It includes the theatre, the backstage areas, and the classrooms.

    My photographs show the following:

    #1: Bust of Red Skelton in the massive lobby of the Performing Arts Center.

    #2: Halls of the lobby are filled with photographs of all the famous characters that Red Skelton created during his stage and television shows.

    #3: Our Student Guide showing us the beautiful auditorium.

    #4: Behind the Scenes: the performer's dressing room.

    #5: The outside view of the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center.

    I think that the engraving on a plaque in the center beside the Red Skelton statue summarizes why Red Skelton was so beloved and so successful:

    Richard "Red" Skelton was born July 18, 1913 one block from this site at 111 West Lyndale. Through his amazing creative talent, Red Skelton became an international star of theater, radio, movies and television. He was also a highly regarded author, artist, composer, humanitarian, and patriot. This Performing Arts Center is dedicated in Red Skelton's honor and memory and as a lasting tribute to "ONE OF AMERICA"S CLOWNS." This plaque and statue were donated by The McCormick Family Foundation.

    Ronda and I were very pleased and happy that we were able to see how our favorite comedian is being remembered.

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    Statue of Francis Vigo

    by deecat Written Jun 3, 2008

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    Statue of Francis Vigo overlooking the Wabash Rive

    As you wander the grounds of the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, you will no doubt come across an imposing statue overlooking the Wabash River. It's a 10-ton granite work done by sculptor, John Angel. In 1936, it was completed and sat in place overlooking the river in tribute to the contributions of American patriot, Francis Vigo.

    Vigo was born in 1747 in northern Italy. He was in a Spanish regiment and sent to New Orleans [at the time possessed by Spain] After his discharge, he became a fur trader, becoming an established merchant and trader in St. Louis in Spanish Upper Louisiana. He traded successfully among the area's Indiana and French settlers.

    Vigo supported George Rogers Clark and the Americans when he furnished them with supplies from his stores. In 1778, Vigo was taken prisoner by the British in Vincennes. When released but told not to anything to harm the British cause. However, he provided Clark with detailed information about the fort at Vincennes. He said that the British intended to attack the Americans at Kaskaskia in the spring so that Clark could surprise the British in Vincennes DURING THE WINTER, when it would not be expected.

    Because of Vigo's information, Clark and his army DID surprise the British at Vincennes and defeated them; thus Fort Sackville was surrendered in 1779.

    After the war, Vigo moved to Vincennes and spent the next 50 years working in the fur trade and was a colonel in the militia. He is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Vincennes.

    So that huge brooding statue overlooking the Wabash River is of a man who deserves recognition for his contributions toward American's successful revolution.

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    Oldest Library in Indiana

    by deecat Updated Jun 3, 2008

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    Indiana's Oldest Library
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    The Old Cathedral Library & Museum is located across the courtyard from the Old Cathedral, and it is purported to be the oldest library in Indiana. It was founded in 1794. Rev. Benedict Joseph Flaget [pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Vincennes organized it.

    Because Simon Gabriel Brute de Remur's personal collection makes up a good deal of the collections here, [he was Bishop of the new Diocese of Vincennes, which included all of Indiana and the easter one third of Illinois.], the Library is named after him.

    Note: The original library building [1840] still stands between the Old Cathedral & the rectory. The present building was erected in 1968 and dedicated on May 18, 1969, and it was made possible by Eli Lilly and the Eli Lilly Endowment, Inc., of Indianapolis. (information on the plaque on the building).

    It is quite unique in that it contains twelve thousand rare volumes, some of which date back to 1319! Only 10% of the books/documents are on display at a time, and they store the rest in an air-conditioned vault on the lower level.

    There are documents that are quite important to the history of the Catholic church in America and concerning the exploration of the Old Northwest.

    Admission: For a tour of the museum

    $1.00 fee for adults
    .50 for children up to 12 years of age

    Open:

    1:00-4:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday (after Memorial Day until the Friday before Labor Day)

    If you wish to use the library or research these collections, you need to contact the library at the number listed.

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    Vincennes State Historic Sites

    by deecat Updated Jun 4, 2008

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    Red House Capitol
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    What a great idea to place so many historic places together in one location. That is the concept behind the Vincennes State Historic Sites

    At one time, in 1800, the Northwest Territory was divided The eastern part was what is now the state of Ohio. The western part became The Indiana Territory, and Vincennes was its capital.

    Would you believe that the Indiana Territory at one time included the present states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota? The first governor of the territory was William Henry Harrison.

    At the Vincennes State Historic Site, they have preserved the building that was used in 1811 for the Indiana Territory Legislature. Called "Red House" because of it's color, it was built in 1805 and first used as a tailor shop. This a structure that you can tour Photo #1.

    The Stout Print Shop replica is also located at this site. He was the first printer in the Indiana Territory. He printed the laws, the newspaper, pamphlet forms for the courts. He printed the first newspaper in Indiana called Indiana Gazette [1804] which later became "The Western Sun.

    Inside this building is an original 200-year-old wooden printing press similar to the one that Stout used. See Photo #2

    Photo #3 is the replica of Jefferson Academy which was established in 1801 by Governor Harrison. Jefferson was president at the time, so the Academy was named after him. At the time, when students were age 15, they came to college for 3 years of instruction in Latin, geometry, and geography. I was surprised to learn that the young kids were admitted in a primary division; thus, there was an age range of 8-18 in one room! This Academy was the "direct ancestor of Vincennes University, chartered in 1806

    The last two photographs, #'s 4-5 have to do with Maurice Thompson. The modest home was his birthplace. This one-room dwelling stood in Fairfield, Indiana, near Cincinnati, Ohio when he was born in 1840.Thompson was the author of the best-selling novel of 1900 called "Alice of Old Vincennes". The book was made into a hit Broadway play that toured the nation. The Nickname for Vincennes became "Alicetown"! I learned from a neice, who lived in Vincennes for years, that there was an Alice Restaurant, Alice Soda Shop, Alice Park, and an Alice movie theater. And, would you believe that the Vincennes Lincoln High School [where her children went to school] named their sports teams, the "Vincennes Alices, which they still use.

    While in Vincennes, I purchased the book, and I just completed it. I must say that it was a delightfulread in every way: educational, romantic, as well as an historic novel about Vincennes during the Revolution and Clark's capturing Fort Sackville from the British.

    Not pictured is an 1850's-era log cabin that serves as the Visitor's Center

    Pay at the Log Cabin:

    Donations of Adult: $3.50
    Seniors: $3.00
    Child $2.50
    Student $1.50

    Open:

    April through mid-November
    Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Suncay 1 to 5 p.m.

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    Pierre Gibault Statue

    by deecat Updated Jun 3, 2008

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    Statue of Pierre Gibault

    Why is there a statue of Father Pierre Gibault in Vincennes, Indiana,at the Old Cathedral Complex near the George Rogers Clark Memorial? Just who was he? These are questions I asked myself as I visited the complex.

    First off, he was a Jesuit missionary and priest in the Northwest Territory in the 18th century, but, more importantly, he was an American Patriot during the American Revolution. Although he was born in Montreal, Canada, he played a pivotal role in American history.

    Father Gibault oversaw a circuit of parishes. Included in this circuit was Vincennes, Indiana. At this time, the territory was dangerous. He'd WALK to such places as Kaskaskia, Illinois, Ste Genevieve, Missouri, and Cahokia, Illinois. For his own safety, he carried a gun and two pistols. He was an excellent gunman.

    Gibault was often called the Patriot Priest because he helped George Rogers Clark by convincing the French residents under his care to support the Americans. Also, he and Francis Vigo are credited with having funded most of the Revolutionary War in the Western theater!

    Father Gibault converted the citizens of Vincennes to the American cause, and the Frenchmen raised a new American flag at the abandoned Fort Sackville [now Vincennes]. They then wrapped the British flag around a stone and discarded it into the Wabash River.

    Sadly, for his loyalty to the Americans, Gibault was in disfavor with his fellow clergy [those who had remained loyal to the British].

    While he lived, Father Gibault really did not receive appropriate recognition for his CRUCIAL AID to George Rogers Clark and the American cause in the West. So, in an effort to remedy that oversight, this bronze statue of Gibault [by Albin Polasek] was erected in 1935 on the park grounds in front of the Old Cathedral. He is buried in an unmarked grave in his birth country; however, his name and spirit live on here in American in Vincennes, Indiana.

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    Old Cathedral [Saint Francis Xavier Church]

    by deecat Updated Jun 3, 2008

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    Old Cathedral, Vincennes, Indiana
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    The oldest congregation in Indiana is the parish of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes, Indiana. The research that I have done indicates that in 1732 a French officer named Sieur de Vincennes was the one who established a fort on the banks of the Wabash River. Shortly thereafter, a settlement made up of French Canadian fur traders and Piankeshaw Indians rose up. By 1734, Jesuit missionary priests visited. Then in 1748, there was a first church that was small and made of wood and mud daubing. A second church was built of upright hewn timber in 1786.

    The present St. Francis Xavier Church was copied from the cathedral at Bardstown, Kentucky and started being built in 1826. It became the cathedral of the Diocese of Vincennes. It's a simple but beautiful church. Inside, its pillars are made of giant yellow poplar trees. It contains lovely mural of the Crucifixion, Madonna and Child, and the patron saints of the four bishops of Vincennes [Simon, Celestine, Stephen, and Maurice].

    The High alter dates to 1904, and the dramatic stained glass windows came from Columbus, Ohio in 1908.

    Four bishops of Vincennes are buried in the crypt. One of these bishops was Simon Brute whose personal collection of books fill the library behind the church.

    Admission Fee: Donations of $.50/adult and $.25 student are requested for tours.

    NO TOURS DURING MASS, but you are welcome to join the church during services.

    My four photographs show the outside of the Old Cathedral [Basilica of St. Francis Xavier] from the front and the back. It also shows an example of a statue inside as well as a sample of a stained-glass window.

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    Old Cathedral Complex

    by deecat Updated Jun 3, 2008

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    Old Cathedral, Vincennes, Indiana
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    The entire Old Cathedral Complex is quite interesting and historic.

    Besides the beautiful and historic 1st church in the state of Indiana, The Old Cathedral Photo #1, which I have covered in a separate tip, I found that I was quite fond of the church rectory and its splendid Greek Revival structure that was built in 1841. Photo #2.

    I just love the old brick found everywhere such as in the lovely arches as pictured in Photo #2 where my sister, Ronda, is walking toward me.

    Behind the rectory is a remnant of St. Gabriel's College which was founded in 1837 by Bishop Brute. The Eudist [a French teaching order of priests] taught here. And, on its porch, you are able to see the bit bell which once hung in the belfry of the church.

    In Photo #4 is the darling St. Rose Chapel, which was built in 1847. The historic marker says, Built in 1847 by Bishop De La Hailandiere, second bishop of Vincennes, to serve seminary students, and later, orphans and school students of the Catholic institutions of Vincennes. The chapel was part of the original St. Rose Academy operated by the sisters of Providence 1848-1876. Rose chapel was restored in 1983 because of the generosity of parishioners of the Old Cathedral. The marker was financed by the Cathedral Men's Club.

    Across the street from this complex, is the Old Catholic grade school which was erected in 1884 and then 'kittie-corner" to it is the new Parish Center that was built in 1993.

    Vincennes really is filled with historic sites for the Caholic Religion.

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    George Rogers Clark Visitor Center

    by deecat Updated Jun 2, 2008

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    Exhibit inside Visitor's Center
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    You are requested to stop first at the Visitor Center. This is very important because you cannot get into the Memorial unless you have a ticket. The tickets are purchased at the Visitor's Center.

    Her, you will also find great information, exhibits [Photo #1], a film, [Photo #2], brochures, and a bookstore.

    I should note right here that the 30-minute movie is outstanding, and the bookstore is filled with excellent books...I purchased "Alice of Old Vincennes", which I'm am just finishing tonight.

    When my sister and I were there, we were fortunate to have timed it perfectly. On that particular day, there were several large groups of grade school children visiting, but we were there between groups. Thus, we had the film to ourselves as well as the Memorial.

    The staff here is quite friendly and helpful; they can answer questions and then help you plan your visit.

    The Visitor Center is open daily [except Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1].
    For the disabled, this entire place is accessible.

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    Grouseland, "The Great House"

    by deecat Updated Jun 3, 2008

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    Grouseland: Home of Wm. Henry Harrison
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    Thank goodness in 1911, the DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution] were responsible for saving Grouseland, the Wm. Henry Harrison Mansion from destruction. Then the Francis Vigo Chapter of the DAR restored it.

    The home is now open for tours from March-December [9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. daily] and January-February [11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.)

    It is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.

    Tours:

    $4.00 for Seniors
    $5.00 for Adults
    $3.00 forStudents
    $2.00 for Children under 12
    $10.00 for Family Pass

    William Henry Harrison was 9th President of the United States. and Governor of Indiana. By touring this home, I better understood life in Vincennes during the early 1800's.

    The story goes that Harrison purchased 300 acres of cleared land to build this home [1803-04. It was surrounded by a grove of walnut trees and near the Wabash River. It is supposedly the first brick building in Vincennes.

    Some people called Grouseland Harrison's "great house". It's name is taken from the fact that Harrison loved to hunt Grouse on this wooded property!

    The family lived in this home until 1812. Judge Benjamin Parke occupied it for awhile, and in 1819, John Cleves Symmes Harrison [eldest on of Henry Harrison] was deeded the house. He lived here about 10 years. The family held it in the family until 1850. Next, it was USED AS STORAGE! Then it became a hotel, then again a residence until 1909. That's when it was to be raze and was saved by the DAR.

    Harrison conquered the great Indian Chief Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe. It is said that one treaty with the Indians called "The Treaty of Grouseland" was signed in the parlor of the house, which was also called the "Council Chamber"

    We could not take photographs inside the home, so I purchased two postcards at the gift shop and used them in Photos # 3-4.

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    Vincennes/Knox County Convention/Visitor Bureau

    by deecat Updated Jun 2, 2008

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    Sign at the Visitors Bureau in Vincennes, Indiana
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    I feel that it is a very good idea if you visit the Vincennes/Knox Couty Convention/Visitor Bureau when you first arrive in Vincennes, Indiana. It's a convenient location of North Third Street and within walking distance of almost all of the activities. I parked my car on a side street, less than 1/2 a block from the Visitor Bureau.

    This is a spot to gather up as many brochures and pamphlets and maps as you need. The informative people who work here are more than happy to assist you.

    A bonus for us was that we were each given a bag of Caramel Corn from the famed Charlie's Caramel Corn & Candy Shop Yum, and Yum again!

    We were given specific directions and hints of where to eat lunch. All the information that we received was "spot on"!

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    Tour the George Rogers Clark Memorial

    by g_i_r_a_f Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The George Rogers Clark Memorial
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    A large memorial stands here to commemorate the capture of Fort Sackville by George Rogers Clark and his frontiersmen on February 25, 1779. A visitor center at the park features exhibits, a 30-minute movie, and a gift shop. History buffs will love this.

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    Grouseland

    by sambarnett Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    grouseland

    This Federal-style house, constructed between 1802-04, was home to William Henry Harrison who served as governor of the Indiana Territory from 1800 until 1812. Harrison was a very powerful man, too powerful in the opinions of his many critics, controlling a tract of land that included the current states of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and parts of Michigan and Minnesota and passing legislation with very little opposition. His number one priority the removal of Indiana's Native population, numerous treaties and negociations occurred here.
       The name "Grouseland" is believe to have been derived from the grouse Harrison liked to hunt in the area. The wallpaper in Harrison bedroom features said bird. Yeah, pretty stupid. But so is naming houses...

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    The St. Francis Xavier Church

    by sambarnett Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    from behind

    Construction of the current structure began in 1826 on the site of two previous, wooden parrishes, the first in Indiana. The grounds of the cathedral complex include a pretty courtyard, a museum shop, a library containing over 11,000 books some printed as far back as the 15th century and an old cemetery containing the remains of early French settlers and soldiers who died during the battle at Fort Sackville during the War for Independence.

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