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Carlinville (1926-30 US 66)

Illinois Flag

Site of the "Million Dollar Courthouse"

Carlinville is a city on the 1926-30 Route 66 alignment in central Illinois. The main sights in town are:
The largest collection of Sears Catalog homes in the word, the old Loomis House (St. George Hotel), the castle-like Macoupin County Jail and the "Million Dollar" Macoupin County Courthouse.
For movie fans: the 1928 Marvel Theatre and the 1950s Diane Drive-In.
Two original Route 66 roadbeds: the Original Road Surface (Cemetery) and the Deerfield Drive Segment.

Carlinville Illinois

Main 1930 - 77 US 66 in Illinois

< West     Hamel ¦ Livingston ¦ Mount Olive ¦ Litchfield ¦ Waggoner ¦ Farmersville ¦ Divernon ¦ Glenarm ¦ Springfield     East >

The 1926-30 Alignment of Route 66 at Carlinville

< Head West
Staunton ¦ Benld ¦ Gillespie

Head East >
Nilwood ¦ Girard ¦ Virden


Carlinville, Illinois: all about it

Trivia, Facts and Useful Information

Elevation: 619 ft (189 m) . Population 5,917 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

The city of Carlinville is Macoupin County's seat; this is a Map of Carlinville.

The History of Carlinville

People have been living in what nowadays is the state of Illinois for over 11,000 years, since the last Ice Age ended. Later, when the first European explorers (French, coming from Canada) reached the area, they encountered the Illinoisian Indians. This took place in the 1600s.

The territory was ceded by France to England after the Seven Year War in 1763, and after the American Independence it became a Territory of the U.S.A, it was admitted into the union as the state of Illinois in 1818.

O.W. Hall settled here in 1817. Macoupin County was established in 1829 and was named after Macoupin Creek (the word is a Miami-Illinois term for the American lotus Nelumbo lutea).

The name Carlinville

Named for Thomas Carlin, (1789-1852), the 7th Governor of Illinois. When he was a member of the state legislature he pushed for the creation of Macoupin County.

Carlin is common in Ireland and Scotland, the English form of the Gaelic Ó Cairealláin, (the descendant of Caireallan).

The town of Carlinville was founded at the same time (1828). Blackburn College, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), was established in 1837.

Route 66 was aligned through the city in 1926 and remaind so until 1930 when it was shortened and realigned to the east, bypassing Carlinville.

Carlinville, its Hotels and Motels

Lodging & accommodation in Carlinville

> > Book your hotel in Springfield

More Accommodation near Carlinville on Route 66

See some more hotels & motels nearby

Hotels further East, in Illinois

On Main US 66

Hotels, Westwards in Missouri

Book your Route 66 hotel
Book your Hotel along Route 66

>> Check out the RV campground nearby in Springfield

Carlinville's weather

weather in Carlinville, Il
Carlinville map on US Highway 66
Here is Carlinville, on U.S. Hwy 66 in Illinois

Carlinville has a "humid continental" climate with wet and hot summers (which are quite long) and short but very cold winters -with plenty of snow and bitter wind.

The average temperature is 52.4 °F (11.3°C). The average winter temperatures (Jan) are: low 21°F (-6°C) and high 35°F (1.7°C). The summer averages (Jul) are: high 86°F (30°C), and low: 68°F (20°C).

In Carlinville snow may fall for over four months with an average 22 inches (56 cm) of snowfall yearly. Rainfall averages some 35.2 in. (893 mm) yearly.

Tornado risk

The countryside near Carlinville is hit by some 7 tornados per year.

Tornado Risk: learn more about the Tornado Risk on US 66.

Map of Route 66 through Carlinville in Illinois

See the alignment of US 66 in this town, on our Illinois Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.

Route 66 in Illinois: Historic Route 66 in Carlinville

Route 66 logo

Route 66 across Illinois

Read this detailed description of Route 66 in Illinois.

Below we provide More information on US 66 in Carlinville (the 1926-30 alignment).

Route 66 is listed in the National Register of Historic Places on two segments of the 1926 alignment: in Auburn and from Girard to Nilwood.

Carlinville: classic US 66 Sights

Landmarks and Attractions

Getting to Carlinville

Reach Carlinville driving along Historic U.S. 66 or from the freeway I-55 Current State Hwy 4 lies on the original Route 66 alignment. You will enter the city from the north turning righ along Shad Rd and then left along N. Broad St. Just after crossing the railroad tracks, turn left along Rice St. to visit the Sears Catalog homes:

Sears Catalog homes

Rice St. from N. High to University St. including transversal streets.

This is the Largest collection of Sears Catalog homes in the whole world.

Sears Catalog homes in Carlinville, Illinois

Sears Catalog homes in Carlinville Route 66
Sears Catalog homes in Carlinville, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

Sears, Roebuck & Co. began selling their mail order catalog homes in 1909, they came in many sizes and models, they were "kit homes" with all the parts and pieces cut to size. The company sold over 70,000 homes between 1909 and 1940.

In Carlinville, they were built by the Standard Oil Company for coal mine workers. in 1918 the oil company bought 192 kits and ended up building 156 homes in town, of which 152 are still standing.

They were built in a new district, known as "Standard Addition" on the northeastern side of Carlinville.

Accommodation Search box:

The Standard Addition Neighborhood Association (SANA) formed in 2014 has plans to restore the area.

There is another Sears kit house on Route 66, the Hogue House in Chelsea Oklahoma, built in 1912 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places (the first house of its kind in Oklahoma and east of the Mississippi River).

Return to Route 66 (N Broad St.) and turn left into the downtown area of Carlinville.

The Route 66 Wayside Exhibit

NW corner of Broad St. and W. Nicholas St.

The exhibit has two panels with plenty of information on Carlinville and its attractions; this is its Street View.

As you enter the town's main public square, notice its Red Brick Paving. Look to your left on the "East Side of the Square", there, on its northeastern corner is an 1870s hotel:

Loomis House (St. George Hotel)

118 East Side Square, Carlinville

Thaddeus Loomis was wealthy a local land owner who in 1861 was elected as county judge. He worked from the courthouse built in 1830 but by 1865 Loomis considered that it was too small for his needs, so he commissioned a new one appointing Elijah E. Meyers as architect and threw into the project the new county jail.

Loomis was involved in the Macoupin County's "Million Dollar Courthouse" scandal back in 1869.

Loomis had a hotel designed for him by E. E. Meyers. on the town's main square: Loomis House, it opened in 1870 as a hotel with 50 rooms and it was built in the same limestone that was used in the County Courthouse.

Later Loomis lost it as he foreclosed on the mortgage, and it became the "Saint George Hotel". Below is a "Then and Now" sequence of the building that saw the 1926-30 Route 66 traffic drive past it.

Loomis House (St. George Hotel) 1920 postcard in Carlinville, Illinois

Loomis House (St. George Hotel) 1920 postcard in Carlinville Route 66
Loomis House (St. George Hotel) 1920 postcard in Carlinville, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

Loomis House (St. George Hotel) nowadays in Carlinville, Illinois

Loomis House (St. George Hotel) nowadays in Carlinville Route 66
Loomis House (St. George Hotel) nowadays in Carlinville, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

As you reach the middle of the western side of the square, turn right along West Main Street (also paved in red bricks) to visit a Classic Movie Theater:

Marvel Theatre

228 W. Main Street, Carlinville

This theatre, pictured below, is located on the NE corner of Main and N Plum St. (to your right). It opened in 1920 and was owned by the Paul family. After burning down in 1926, it reopened in 1928 and kept screening movies until 2014. It reopened recently.

Its current marquee is from the 1960s.

Diane Drive-In in Carlinville US66

Diane Drive-In, Carlinville, Il. Click for street view

Marvel Theatre in Carlinville US66

Marvel Theatre, Carlinville, Il. Click for street view

Diane Drive-In

1950N and Colt Road, Carlinville

Keep heading west along Main (IL-108) for 1.8 miles -see this Map with Directions and visit a classic Drive-In.

The drive-in theater opened in 1952 and belonged to the same family that owned the Marvel Theatre. It could fit 300 cars and remained open until 1981. It is still there, slowly decaying. See the picture of its neon sign above.

Turn around and retrace your steps to the city's square, turn right and thd rive around the square; turn left along E 1st St. (IL-108 and IL-4) just ahead is the Famous Courthouse:

Macoupin County Courthouse

201 E Main St, Carlinville

The Macoupin County Courthouse is known as the "Million Dollar Courthouse" (it actually cost over $ 1.3 Million in 1870 dollars, which is roughy equivalent to $24 million today).

The project promoted by Judge Loomis was budgeted in 1865 at $50,000. A bond was issued and a levy was established to gather the necessary funds. But as time passed the costs rose and by 1869 the project had swallowed almost $ 450,000, and the building was not yet finished -lacking its roof and dome.

Corruption charges were brought against Judge Loomis and the County Clerk and also partner in Loomis' hotel, George Holliday.

The building was completed in 1870 at a cost of $1,342.000.00. A committee was created to investigate the charges and both Loomis and Holliday resigned. But Loomis was later cleared and Holliday vanished from Carlinville without a trace.

The tremendous debt caused by the Corthouse building was repayed over the next 40 years: the final bonds were paid off in 1904.

In 1870, when it opened it was the largest courthouse in the country and is still in use.

Macoupin County Courthouse in Carlinville, Illinois

Macoupin County Courthouse in Carlinville Route 66
Macoupin County Courthouse in Carlinville, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

Across the street from the County's Courthouse is the old County Jail (to your right):

Macoupin County Jail

215 S East St, Carlinville

This castle-like county jail pictured below was designed in Gothic Revival style by E. E. Mayers (who had designed the courthouse and Loomis' Hotel) in 1867 and completed two years later.

It looks like a castle from the Middle Ages and is known as the "Cannonball Jail" because it was built using embedded cannon balls in the stone walls.

It was built to hold 17 inmates and remained in use until 1988 when it closed. It is closed to the public but there are plans to renovate it and reopen it.

Macoupin County Jail in Carlinville, Illinois

Macoupin County Jail in Carlinville Route 66
Macoupin County Jail in Carlinville, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

There is a 1950s motel on the SW corner at the junction of IL-4 and E 1st Street. Turn left along IL-4 and head south.

1920s Original Road Surface (Cemetery)

IL-4 and Country Club Ln. Carlinville Cemetery

The highway passes by the local Country Club (left) and, at Country Club Road at the old cemetery is a section of the original 1920s concrete paved Route 66, a very narrow section of the original road. It is pictured below

1920s Original Road Surface (Cemetery) in Carlinville US66

1920s Original Road Surface (Cemetery), Carlinville, Il. Click for street view

More 1920s Original Road Surface (Cemetery) in Carlinville US66

More 1920s Original Road Surface (Cemetery), Carlinville, Il. Click for street view

Just ahead, and also to your left (500 yards away) is yet another section of the old narrow roadbed, it is pictured above (red arrow).

Deerfield Drive Segment

Deerfield Dr. and IL-4

Continue south towards Gillespie and after 4.1 miles is an "original section" along Deerfield Drive that curves around the modern (1932 alignment) to the west and then to the east at Honey Creek. This is a Map with directions.

Deerfield Route 66 segment in Carlinville, Illinois

Deerfield Route 66 segment in Carlinville Route 66
Deerfield Route 66 segment in Carlinville, Illinois. Stefan's US66 pictures

Continue south into Gillespie.

Historic Route 66 in Carlinville

Historic background: Pontiac Trail

Pontiac Trail sign

Pontiac Trail shield

The "Pontiac Trail" was born due to ehte growing use of cars during the early 1910s: roads were in poor condition and were suitable for carts and horses, not for automobiles.

A private association was formed in 1915 to promote better roads, and in particular the "Pontiac Trail", a projected "solid surface road" that would link St. Louis with Chicago.

The association named it after the well known Ottawa Indian chief. They secured the support of the B.F. Goodrich tire company to mark its mile posts and they even designed its own shierld (image).

The state of Illinois' government took over and issued a bond in 1918 which created the State Bond Issue (SBI) Highway No. 4 which was more or less aligned along the Pontiac Trail.

This highway was paved between 1923 and 1926, and that same year, 1926 when U.S. Highway 66 was created, it was aligned along the new IL-4 roadbed.

1926-1930 US 66

This first alignment of Route 66 south of Springfield had a winding course following the former county lanes and lot demarcation trails. It had many sharp 90° curves. This made it unsafe and also longer.

Route 66 after 1930

Marked in Pale Blue in the map above.

Seeking a straighter alignment the Illinois Division of Highways led by Thomas Sheets moved Route 66 eastwards through Mt. Olive and Litchfield and Divernon.

The 1930's alignment branched off from the older one in Staunton and reunited with it further north, in Springfield. It bypassed Carlinville.

The 1926-30 road from Nilwood to Carlinville

It is a 12-mile drive between both towns, see this Map with directions.

> > See the previous segment From Girard to Nilwood (east)

> > See the next segment Carlinville to Gillespie (west)


Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.

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