Historic Driving Tour of Alton
A historic driving tour of Alton takes visitors along the streets of Alton’s three historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Upper Alton Historic District
As a cultural and educational center, Upper Alton was once a separate town from Alton. It is anchored by a former military academy and is the oldest continuously used educational buildings in Illinois. The main street names, Seminary and College, continue the education theme in the area. Many of the houses were built for the professors and administrators of these institutions. The neighborhood also includes the Alton Museum of History and Art and the life-size statue of Robert Pershing Wadlow, the world’s tallest man.
Christian Hill Historic District
On the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, Christian Hill was developed from the 1830s to 1910. Mostly antebellum Victorian houses line these Alton streets with the occasional older Federal-styled exception. Once dominated by the prison and flourmills below, many of the foundations and retaining walls are built of the limestone from the prison ruins. The neighborhood was anchored by the Old Cathedral with its towering spires and Riverview Park with its steep steps, sunken garden and Victorian bandstand.
Middletown Historic District
Middletown was the center of wealth in the early days of Alton. The homes not only represent the prosperity of the community, but the wealth of families and their descendants that led Alton society for more than a century. Henry and East Twelfth streets feature many of the larger and elaborate styled houses. Brick sidewalks and architectural styles connect a beautiful park with a Victorian playhouse and an area called Insuranceville.