Shawneetown Bank State Historic Site: 2024 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois


280 Washington St.

Old Shawneetown, Gallatin County

Year built




Current owner

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

(Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)

Why is this place important?

Located on the Ohio River, Shawneetown was an important early settlement in Illinois, a key commercial area and a gateway to the Northwest Territories. The Shawneetown Bank was established in 1816 under a charter passed by the Illinois territorial legislature. This grand building, the oldest bank building in Illinois, opened in 1841 as the Bank of Illinois. It operated as a state bank for two years and then as a private bank until the devastating flood of 1937. After the flood, most townspeople relocated to New Shawneetown, three miles inland from the river. The Shawneetown Bank was deeded to the State of Illinois in 1942 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

(Photo credit: Gallatin County Historical Society)


The bank was included on Landmarks Illinois’ Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois in 2009 due to insufficient maintenance by the State Department of Natural Resources. Today, the building has fallen into further disrepair. While there has been some investment in the building’s exterior, the state has not been able to make any interior repairs. The building lacks mechanical systems, and roof leaks are allowing water inside the building, which is accelerating the degradation of the structure. As is the case with other State Historic Sites, budgetary concerns place this property in danger of continued neglect.

(Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)


IDNR must be provided with the necessary financial and human resources for maintenance of the sites it is responsible for managing, like the Shawneetown Bank. This is the same issue that endangered the Shawneetown Bank and other state-run historic sites in 2009, and it has not been resolved. As with the Buel House and Bishop Hill Colony Church — also included on the 2024 Most Endangered list — IDNR could address the urgently needed repairs of the Shawneetown Bank with adequate funding and personnel. As a long-term solution, once emergency repairs are made, IDNR could partner with a local organization, such as the Gallatin County Historical Society. The Historical Society has tried to be a steward of the building and wants to work with IDNR to maintain and operate the bank building.

(Photo credit: Gallatin County Historical Society)


  • Connect with the Gallatin County Historical Society to see how you join the effort to preserve the Shawneetown Bank. Email Historical Society members Cindy Decker at and Tamara Briddick at to offer your assistance.
  • Contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to express your support of preserving state-owned historic properties at
  • 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

(Photo credit: Gallatin County Historical Society)

Christy Short

Former Gallatin County Historical Society Historian and Curator

“The Old State Bank at Shawneetown, situated at the spurs end of the Ohio River Scenic Byway, is unique and a part of our identity. For years, opportunities for generating revenue through tourism for our county and region have been overlooked. To nourish tourism in Southern Illinois is our biggest asset. Preservation of this historic bank offers opportunities for investing in the goals we all share, seeing and touching our history firsthand and enabling us to generate public awareness of our state’s history.”

(Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)

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