Take a drive east on Illinois State Road 16 from Interstate 55, you'll run into a string of hills that rise from the the green and yellow fields. On top of these tree covered landscapes, sits the city of Hillsboro, Illinois, county seat of Montgomery County. Creative and unique sort of people live here, giving our town a different sort of atmosphere; one that people always ask about when they run into the inhabitants of our city on the hills. We just shrug, smile, and say, "no one can really explain it."
It's a vibe. Enjoy it.
But, that vibe has a long history and it's one that Abraham Lincoln felt when he walked our streets...
After settlers from North Carolina founded Hillsboro in 1823, the town quickly became a center of making things and discussing important ideas. The city was located about halfway between the first and second capitals of Illinois, Vandalia and Springfield. Thus, it became a stopping point for the important people of the state to eat, drink, argue politics and enjoy their friends. Their legacy is kept at the historic Harkey House, run by the Montgomery County Historical Society.
Abraham Lincoln walked our streets, sat on a friend’s front porch telling stories (we have the stair he sat on at the Montgomery County Historical Society), slept in our town's hotels, and tried cases at the historic county courthouse at the head of main street. The statue, located on the city square, shows him as he might have appeared on one of his days in our town, preparing himself to become the Great Emancipator.
Lincoln isn't the only famous person who has walked our streets. 1950's children's television sensation, Mary Hartline, graduate of Hillsboro High School, called our city home until her passing in 2020. In the 1920's, local musician Otto Funk fiddled his way across America earning lasting fame in at time known for it's weird record breaking achievements. Most recently, UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes and Brian Graden, one of the most influential shapers of pop culture through his work at MTV, VH1 and the discovery of the creators of South Park; both either live or visit Hillsboro, their hometown, on a regular basis.
All of this history helps give Hillsboro it's "vibe", something you will feel when you step on it's streets.
Throw a Weekend Party
Hillsboro is a great place for a party, whether it's a wedding, anniversary, or a class reunion, we have all you need to throw a celebration your friends will be talking about for years. The Event Center of Montgomery County is a space available for larger parties and The Abbey on Broad offers a space designed for smaller and more intimate gatherings. Where will everyone stay? Coming in 2021, the Historic Red Rooster Inn, complete with a brewery/distillery and European style pub, will open its doors. If you want to stay by beautiful Lake Hillsboro, the folks at the Red Rooster have you already covered with the Lakehouse. Or you can stay on the south edge of town at the Countryside Inn for a bit more peace and quiet. If you want pictures of your special event Ken Meade Photography and Talntha Bock stand ready to capture it for you.
The Red Rooster Inn
The Orpheum Theater
Twelve years ago, Jeff Eisentraut bought The Orpheum, a movie theater that started in 1920 and has fascinating history. He reimagined the entire theater and created a destination place to anchor the south part of downtown. On the north side, John and Kendra Wright bought the Historic Red Rooster Inn in 2017 and began a significant renovation project. The building will open in 2021 as a mixed-used space that will include a hotel, apartments and a distillery and brewery. With these two downtown anchors in place, Hillsboro is ready to take the next step as a community and a weekend tourist destination.
Kayak and Camp on The Lovely Lakes....
We love the outdoors in Hillsboro, especially our two lakes and a campground that welcomes RV's and tent camping. You can easily spend a day kayaking, pontoon boating, fishing, or sitting in the shade watching eagles and blue hurons. Come back at night for a view of the stars, planets and galaxies that is hard to beat in Central Illinois.
Consider the birds in the fields....
How many other towns can claim a designated Audubon Society Bird Sanctuary? Well, we can.
The Bremer Sanctuary, home of the Hickory Hills Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society, was founded in 1977 on farmland donated by Helen and Betty Bremer. A beautiful afternoon walk will take you through restored native prairie and groves of magisterial white oaks while you try to spot Eastern Bluebirds, the elusive Horned Owls, the state endangered Henslow's Sparrow and other Midwestern wildlife. The society holds educational hikes and other groovy events to build your love of our feathered neighbors.
Walk the dog, pickle the ball and other things you can do our parks.
Need to let the dogs run out their crazies? Take them on over to the newest addition to our park system, Pawsboro 620K-9 dog park. Afterwards, hike over to Central Park to play a game of pickle ball or to have a swim during the summer when our pool is open. Construction of city-wide hiking and biking paths began in the Fall of 2020
Stay In Hillsboro.
Explore the Midwest.
Another great thing about living in Hillsboro is that we have some pretty cool neighbors. We are located right in the middle of the "Gateway to the West", St. Louis, Missouri and Springfield, Illinois, the center of Lincoln's history in the state. Both are an hour's drive from our town.
Lake Lou Yaeger in Litchfield has a beach for swimming and some pretty rugged mountain bike trails. The city is located along Route 66 and hosts a museum dedicated to legendry highway. Greenville offers a college town atmosphere while Carlinville is full of intriguing history, including its location on the Route 66 bike trail. Want to take a train here? There is an Amtrak station located in Carlinville as well.