Named after Brigadier General William Woodford, who died as a prisoner of the British in the American Revolution, Woodford County has been at the center of American history from its beginnings. Two former United States presidents spent time in this county--Abraham Lincoln, who practiced law in Metamora, and Ronald Reagan, who studied at Eureka College. Today, visitors can still walk in these past presidents' footsteps at the Metamora Courthouse State Historic Site and on the Eureka College Campus including the Ronald Reagan Museum and Peace Garden.
The Metamora Courthouse, built in the early 1840's, was abandoned when the county seat was moved to Eureka in 1884 and was eventually purchased by the State of Illinois. It is now maintained as a memorial in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Within its old walls are valuable relics contributed by the Woodford County Historical Society, providing a glimpse of what life might have been like while Lincoln was practicing law.
Another staple of Woodford County history is the accredited and well-respected alma mater of President Reagan, Eureka College. In fact, the year 2011 was Reagan's centennial celebration, as he began attending Eureka College in 1911. To this day, Reagan's international influence is still evoked at Eureka College through all academic arenas including art, history, and communications. In honor of the centennial in 2011, Woodford County hosted numerous speakers, events, seminars and fundraising activities throughout the year.
The Ronald Reagan Museum, located on the campus, features a collection of over 2,000 items from his student days, movie and television career, eight years as governor of California, campaign for presidency, and his two terms in office. It is the largest collection of Reagan memorabilia outside of the Reagan Library in California. Furthermore, the Ronald Reagan Peace Garden is a sight not to be missed. The garden has a fragment of the Berlin Wall and serves as a reminder of the time in May 1982 when Reagan returned to Eureka and gave his famous "START" speech, which many consider marked the end of the Cold War.
With a county as rich in history as Woodford, you'll definitely need to make it a stop on your next trip to the Peoria Area. While you're in Woodford, stop by Conklin's Barn II Dinner Theatre, a highlight for more than 30 years. The company of professional actors puts on multiple shows each year and your ticket price includes a delicious dinner during the performance. Metamora Fields, located in Metamora, offers locals and visitors alike the chance to participate in cooking classes and learn more about nutrition and health, enjoy a relaxing round of high quality golf, or just enjoy a gourmet meal.
Our partners in Woodford County have both modern appeal and historical integrity. With so many options, you'll want to visit as often as possible!
State, Historical & Recreational Sites: