In and Around Charleston

Charleston, Illinois is a progressive city of over 21,000 persons located in East Central Illinois. Rich in the history of Abraham Lincoln, the city features a balance of industrial, agricultural, educational and cultural opportunity.

Located on Highway 16, just 10 miles east of Interstate 57, Charleston is the county seat for Coles County and is the center of government and commerce for the predominantly rural and agricultural region surrounding Coles County. With nearly 183,000 people residing within a thirty-five mile radius of Charleston, a capable and willing workforce is readily available for business and industrial firms located here. Charleston is a city where the work ethic remains strong and the spirit of community support is high.

Highway 16 is the primary retail corridor in Charleston with a peak ADT of 25,000 vehicles per day. Our Industrial Area is located along Illinois Route 130 and Eastern Illinois Railroad on the north side of town. Charleston's motto is "The Friendly City."

The city of Charleston's website can be viewed here.
A New Resident Guide for Charleston, Illinois is available here.
A Community Profile and Resource Guide is also available from the Charleston Chamber of Commerce here.


Settlement of this area began in 1826. Early settlers, attracted by the rich prairie soil, found crops such as broom corn to be particularly well-suited to early agricultural activity. Charleston was selected as the seat of Coles County government in 1831, and was organized as a village in 1835. Mining, railroads, and shoe manufacturing were early industries that formed the current foundation of Charleston's current economic activity. Charleston was also home to the fourth debate of Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln in 1858.

For more information on Charleston's history, as well as Eastern Illinois University, please visit the following links:

Beyond proximity to the campus, Charleston residents often find local historical sites of interest:
  • Greenwood School Museum was a one-room country school house which was originally located in eastern Coles County. The building now sits on Eastern's campus by Buzzard Hall. The original building was erected in 1862 and was used until 1894. The present building was constructed in 1895 and was used until 1948.
  • Dudley House, the childhood home of noted scholar and labor leader, Tilford Dudley, was restored and given to the Coles County Historical Society. This Queen Anne style home is located at 895 Seventh Street.
  • Lincoln Heritage Trail winds through Coles County as well as much of Kentucky, Indiana, and other parts of Illinois. Locally, the Trail can be joined on south Fourth Street and leads to the Lincoln Log Cabin farm, the Moore House, and other Lincoln site.
  • Lincoln Log Cabin is an 86-acre historic site that is owned and operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Division of Historic Sites, and preserves the site of the 1840s farm of Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, father and stepmother of our 16th president. Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer living in Springfield by the time his parents moved here in 1837, but he did visit them periodically.
  • Five Mile House- The Five Mile House, located five miles southeast of Charleston, Illinois is one of the earliest remaining structures in Coles County. The original two room brick house was built in the 1840s and a frame kitchen ell was added in the 1850s or 60s.The stucco and porch were added in the early 20th century.

In and Around the Charleston Community

The following list is a non-comprehensive list of community organizations, stores, government agencies etc. for Charleston residents:
  • Bookstores & Libraries
    • University Union Bookstore - EIU University Union, 581-5821
    • Jane Addams Bookshop - 208 N. Neil, Champaign, 356-2555
    • Barnes & Noble - 65 East Market View Dr., Champaign, 355-2045
    • Charleston Public Library - 712 6th Street, 345-4913
    • Mattoon Public Library - 1600 Charleston Avenue, Mattoon, 234-2621
  • Churches
    • Charleston offers most of the common denominations. A complete listing can be found in the Charleston-Mattoon phone book.
  • Community Service Agencies
    • Hope of East Central Illinois, 348-5931
    • Illinois Department of Children & Family Services - 348-7661
    • Mattoon Area Family YMCA - 234-9494
    • Catholic Charities of Coles County - 235-0420
    • Charleston Civic Association - 345-2767
    • Mattoon Community Food Center - 258-8321
    • ABBCON Counseling Corporation - 345-3156
    • Sexual Assault Counseling & Information - 348-5033
    • Coles County Habitat for Humanity - 348-7063
    • Salvation Army - 234-3915
    • Crisis Pregnancy Center of Eastern Illinois - 345-5000; 234-3312
    • Embaras River Basin Agency, Inc. - 345-4840
    • Veterans Affairs - 234-4775
    • Coalition for People in Need - 345-5099
    • Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System - 348-2525
  • Community Schools
  • Government Agencies
    • Charleston City Hall - 520 Jackson, 345-5650
    • Mayor's Office, 345-5650
    • Police Department - 614 6th Street, 345-0060
    • Fire Department - 911, 345-2132, 345-2133
    • Coles County Court House - Charleston Square
    • Recreation Department - 520 Jackson, 345-6897
    • Post Office - 667 Windsor Drive, 345-2900
  • Transportation
    • Amtrak Train - 1718 Broadway Avenue, Mattoon, (800) 872-7245
    • Dial a Ride - 639-5169
    • Greyhound Lines - 1904 Broadway Avenue East, Mattoon, 234-3333
    • University of Illinois - Willard Airport - 1 Airport Road, Champaign, 244-8689
  • Utilities
    • Ameren CIPS - (888) 789-2477
    • Coles Moultrie Electric Coop - 104 DeWitt Avenue, Mattoon, 235-0341
    • Charleston Water Department - 520 Jackson, 345-8430
    • Illinois Consolidated Communications - 700 W. Lincoln, (800) 553-9981
  • Recycling Facilities
    • Coles County Sanitation & Recycling - 655 W Lincoln Ave # 9, 345-7101

To Become An Official Resident

  • Voting
    • To register to vote, go to the County Clerk's Office in the Coles County Court House, located on the Charleston square.
  • Vehicle Registration
    • To register for Illinois automobile license plates, go to the Driver's License facility located at 1010 E. Street, 345-7401. The specific time limit varies depending on the state in which the vehicle is registered.
    • To register a bicycle, go to the Charleston Police department.
  • Driver's License
    • To obtain a new Illinois driver's license, go to the Department of Motor Vehicles location at 1010 E. Street, 345-7401.