Buel House State Historic Site: 2024 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois


Columbus Avenue

Golconda, Pope County

Year built




Current owner

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

(Photo credit: Pope County Historical Society)

Why is this place important?

The Alexander Buel House is a State Historic Site with ties to the Trail of Tears—the forced migration of tens of thousands of Native Americans from the Southeastern United States to territory west of the Mississippi River from approximately 1830 to 1850. While the house was built after the major forced migration of the Cherokee people from their homeland in Georgia that took place from 1838-39, Cherokees undoubtedly passed by the site, as it was the landing point on the Illinois side of the Ohio River. There are indications that Cherokees would later stop by the Buel House on their way to visit Georgia. The Buel House represents the beginning of the Trail of Tears in Illinois—the most fatal stretch of the Trail—and the house serves as a site of memory and education for this dark episode in our nation’s history.

(Photo credit: Pope County Historical Society)


Despite being an important state-owned site located along historic State Highway 146 (the designated route of the Trail of Tears), deferred maintenance threatens the property’s future. The State of Illinois conducted a site survey in 2007 resulting in a list of repair recommendations. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) recently painted the exterior of the home, showing the transformative impact when maintenance needs are addressed. (Pictured is before and after painting.) While the painting was desperately needed, several other urgent repair needs remain, including roof replacement, foundation repair and window restoration. The Pope County Historical Society has undertaken basic grounds maintenance but does not have the necessary resources to address larger issues.

(Photo credit: Pope County Historical Society)


IDNR must be provided with the necessary financial and human resources for the maintenance of the sites it is responsible for managing, like the Buel House. As with the Shawnteetown Bank and Bishop Hill Colony Church — also included on the 2024 Most Endangered list — IDNR could address the urgently needed repairs of the Buel House with adequate funding and personnel. As a long-term solution, once emergency repairs are made, IDNR could partner with local organizations, such as the Pope County Historical Society, to help with ongoing maintenance and interpretive programming of this historic structure.

(Photo credit: Pope County Historical Society)


  • Connect with the Pope County Historical Society to see how you can help the Buel House preservation effort. Email secretary@popecoilhs.org or visit popecoilhs.org to express your interest and offer assistance.
  • Contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to express your support of preserving state-owned historic properties at pio@illinois.gov.
  • Contact your state representative and senator to encourage them to prioritize additional funding for State Historic Sites within IDNR. You can find your representative and senator at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.


(Photo credit: Pope County Historical Society)

Linda Parsons

Pope County Historical Society Membership Chair/Board Member

“The Buel House is history at risk of being lost without proper restoration. This historic structure, once a tourist attraction, is representative of the early history of Golconda and Southern Illinois. Designated a Historic Point of Interest on the Trail of Tears, restoration would improve tourism and allow it to be open to the public for tours and education.”

(Photo credit: Pope County Historical Society)

Support our advocacy

Be a voice for the future of our communities by supporting Landmarks Illinois. Our work enhances communities, empowers citizens, promotes local economic development and offers environmentally sound solutions.

Become A Member