Historic Landmark Document

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Historic Building Information

Information courtesy of the City of St. Charles Historic Preservation Commission

Howard House Hotel

117-123 South 3rd Street

Findings for Historic Landmark Designation

City Ordinance 2006-Z-24


1.  That the property has character, interest or value which is part of the development, heritage or cultural character of the community, county or nation. 


President and First Lady Lincoln visited St. Charles several times due to their political relationships with residents like General J.F Farnsworth and others. After the death of President Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln continued to visit here. The fact that she used a clairvoyant and attended séances has been well documented throughout history. One of those clairvoyants was Mrs. Caroline Howard. Caroline and her husband Leonard owned the Howard House Hotel. When Mary Todd Lincoln visited Mrs. Howard she stayed at this hotel and for a short period of time served as Mary Todd Lincoln’s home.


The Hotel also served as barracks for the 8th Illinois Cavalry while they were training during the Civil War. Camp Kane, now known as Langum Park, was the training camp site for the 8th Illinois Cavalry. The 8th Illinois Cavalry made military history by being known as the regiment that fired the first shot at Gettysburg. They participated in most of the major battles of the Civil War and were the regiment that escorted President Lincoln’s casket back to Illinois after his assassination.  


2. That the property is identified with a person who significantly contributed to the development of the community, county, or nation.

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln stayed at the Howard House Hotel and actually lived at the Hotel for some time after the assassination of President Lincoln. The Hotel was owned by Caroline and Leonard Howard. Mrs. Howard was a clairvoyant that Mrs. Lincoln would visit with for séances. Mrs. Howard was well known around the area for here psychic abilities.

Mr. Leonard Howard was a member of one of the first families to settle in St. Charles. He was a mason and held many public positions such as justice of the peace, probate justice, and assessor.


3. That the property has a unique location or physical characteristics that make it a familiar visual feature.

The Hotel is located on the northwest corner of South Third and Illinois streets. The building is very prominent at the intersection, due to its size and location. The building is a familiar visual feature and was recently enhanced with the reconstruction of a two-story wrap around porch that was originally part of the building. The addition of the porch gives the building a more historic and visually appealing appearance.  


4. That the property is suitable for preservation or restoration.


Although the building has suffered the loss of the original two-story wrap around porch the actual building has had few changes to the exterior. Most of the issues the building faced were due to lack of maintenance. The current owner has done a significant amount of repair, maintenance and has reconstructed the wrap around porch restoring much of the original appearance.        


5. That the property has yielded or is likely to yield information important to prehistory, history, or other areas of archaeological significance.


This property has yielded information regarding President and especially Mrs. Lincoln’s connection with St. Charles.  The building’s history as barracks for the 8th Illinois Cavalry is also significant information as showing the involvement and commitment of St. Charles during the Civil War.