Learn about the unique history of the Owen Lovejoy Homestead.
About The Homestead
A Former Station on the Underground Railroad, the Lovejoy Homestead is located at the eastern edge of Princeton, Illinois, and was the home of the Denham and Lovejoy families for nearly 100 years.
Reverend Lovejoy was its most famous resident and occupied the house from 1838 until his death in 1864. Lovejoy was prominent in the abolition movement and the Underground Railroad, a founder of the Illinois and national Republican party, and a congressional leader.
Lovejoy is perhaps best known for his role in the Underground Railroad. As an outspoken abolitionist, he openly proclaimed his willingness to assist fugitive slaves. His involvement made this house one of the most important stations on the Underground Railroad in Illinois. The Owen Lovejoy Home now belongs to the City of Princeton and was opened as a museum in 1972. The United States Secretary of the Interior declared the property a National Historic Landmark in 1997.
Also located on the Lovejoy Homestead property is the one room Colton Schoolhouse. It was moved from its original location 2.5 miles east to the Homestead in 1971.
About The Schoolhouse
The Colton Schoolhouse is located on the property of the Owen Lovejoy Homestead on the east side of Princeton, Illinois. It was moved to that site in 1970 when the Lovejoy home was restored and opened to the public as a museum.
The schoolhouse was originally located 2.5 miles east on land donated by Chauncey Colton. Mr. Colton came to Princeton in 1834, where he married Emily Smith. He purchased 160 acres on Peru Road and named it the Cedars. In 1848, Mr. Colton gave by land grant a portion of his farm to the City of Princeton for building a one-room country school, which still bears his name.
The schoolhouse was constructed of red brick with walls 12" thick and wide floor boards fastened down by square nails. The original building had two windows on each of the four sides, but later state law required that windows be grouped on one side to give more light to the students. A back door was added and two front windows were bricked in, giving the building its present appearance.
The first session of school was in 1850. The teacher received $20 a month, and school board members provided room and board in their homes. Records indicate that the average class size was 22 students. Often times boys stayed home to help on the farm during fall harvest and spring planting and would attend classes only in the winter months. The Colton School held classes for 95 years and finally closed in 1945.
Today, after careful restoration, the schoolhouse features the original wood floors and the teacher's desk from the early 1900's, along with all the other items found in a one-room school.