Challacombe House & Park
Challacombe House was built before the Civil War by Captain Thomas Phillips, an early settler and Hillsboro’s first mayor. It stood on a 15-acre tract at what was then the east edge of town. Captain Phillips, a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Black Hawk War, moved his family from Kentucky to this area in 1827. Captain Phillips built his home on this site prior to the Civil War and later sold it to his son, Colonel Jesse J. Phillips, a veteran of the Civil War who was commander of the Ninth Illinois regiment, which he helped organize in April, 1861.
The colonel returned after the war and practiced law in Hillsboro, then later became chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. He eventually sold the property to Mr. and Mrs. John Challacombe, prominent Hillsboro residents. Mr. Challacombe was a hardware merchant, farm implement dealer, bridge builder, and landowner. He left the estate to his only child, Miss Esther Challacombe. Members of the family occupied the property for more than 60 years. When she died on December 17, 1942, she left the property to the City of Hillsboro as a memorial to her parents. She requested that the house be used as a community meeting place and the property be named Challacombe Park. She also left a trust fund of $70,000 to help maintain the property.
A fire occurred on February 24, 2007 in the west end of the house. Money from insurance and the trust fund allowed the City to perform extensive renovation and modernization of the building. A large deck was added to the rear of the building in 2017. Challacombe House is a great venue for showers, graduation and birthday parties, family reunions, receptions, etc. Reservations can be made by contacting City Hall at 217 532-5566.
Over 13 acres of park space make up Challacombe Park. This park includes Hillsboro 620K9 Dog Park and a newly constructed, wooded hiking trail lined with wood chips.
Central Park & Pool
Central Park has a long history in Hillsboro. The natural spring that flows from the hill (giving Water Street its name) provided water for a distillery operated by early settler John Nussman just after 1800. In 1899, the town erected a 70 foot brick water tower and water was drawn from the spring to provide water for the people of Hillsboro. By 1903, the town’s growth had outgrown the spring’s capacity and a “puddle wall” was erected where Seward Street and its bridge are located. The dam created a 14 foot deep, 30 acre lake when the lake was full. After the completion of Hillsboro Lake in 1918, the lake at Central Park was drained. In 1937, local workers, with the help from the Works Progress Administration, constructed a 60 x 120 foot concrete swimming pool. This pool, with upgrades and improvements along the way, still serves to cool swimmers in the hot summer months. There are also three recently resurfaced pickleball courts and basketball pad at Central Park.
Currently, a partnered fundraising effort by Imagine Hillsboro and the City of Hillsboro is working to create a recreational ball field, walking paths, and an all-inclusive playground. Details about this effort and to find out how you can help can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ReinventingCentralPark
Glenn Shoals and Old Hillsboro Lakes
The lakes are one of Hillsboro’s main attractions. Get away from the hustle of life and have fun in the sun while boating, skiing, canoeing, or relax with a fishing trip in the serene environment of Hillsboro’s two beautiful lakes. All water craft must have a permit, but one permit gets you boating access to both lakes all year long. Or, you can buy a daily permit to check things out, but we’re confident that you’ll want to return to our lakes again and again.
Glenn Shoals Lake
Created in 1976 by damming the Middle Fork of Shoal Creek, Glenn Shoals Lake was built for recreation, sport fishing, and water supply purposes. Glenn Shoals Lake is managed for bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, and hybrid striped bass. The lake is regulated in two halves, north and south of the Meisenheimer Avenue bridge, with a speed limit of 35 mph south of the bridge but only 5 mph north of the structure.
Near the lake dam, at 700 Glenn Shoals Drive, is the South Marina with public restrooms, a pavilion, parking area, and two concrete launch ramps. The Marina restaurant is operated seasonally with a full service restaurant, fuel and boat permit sales, and boat slips available for rent. Adjacent to the Meisenheimer Avenue Bridge is the north access area with two concrete launch ramps, public restroom, an ADA accessible fishing dock, kayak launch, covered pavilion, and shaded public park space to enjoy a family picnic or fish from the bank.
Further information about the lake and fishing limits can be found at https://www.ifishillinois.org/profiles/waterbody.php?waternum=00180
Work was completed in 1918 creating Hillsboro Lake. Commonly referred to as “the old lake”, this 110 acre reservoir has no horsepower limit, but a 10 mph speed limit on the entire lake. This lake has a healthy population of largemouth bass, redear sunfish, bluegill, and channel catfish. The lake has a concrete launch ramp just off of City Lake Road near the entrance to the campground. The lake has rolling park space adjacent to the lake with two covered pavilions and public restrooms. This park hosts the 4th of July celebration with fireworks, concerts, and the cardboard boat regatta.
Reservations for the pavilions can be made by contacting City Hall at 217 532-5566.
Further information about the lake and fishing limits can be found at https://www.ifishillinois.org/profiles/waterbody.php?waternum=00181
Sherwood Forest Campground
Sherwood Forest Campground, located at 920 City Lake Road, is situated in a wooded setting adjacent to Hillsboro Lake. There are 125 permanent campsites, 15 short term campsites, and two host sites. All sites have electrical and water hookups with a dump station available within the campground. There is a clean, well maintained shower house facility as well as another public comfort station available for campers and their guests. Other amenities include two rental cabins, a covered stage, pavilions, and a playground.
*Due to COVID19, Sherwood Forest Campground will be permanent campers only for the 2021 camping season. There will be no weekend, short term camping, or cabin rentals available.
Hillsboro 620K9 Dog Park
Through a partnership of Imagine Hillsboro and the City of Hillsboro, “Hillsboro 620K9 Off-Leash Dog Park” was completed in 2019. This area is included in the Challacombe Park area. This park provides a gathering place for dogs and their owners and features fenced in areas for both large (over 50 lbs) and small (under 50 lbs) dogs, waste bags and disposal stations, and a hydrant to provide fresh water for your canine friend. The park is open to the public form sunrise to sunset.
Constructed in the late 1940’s by firemen returning from World War II, this public building was once the meeting place for Hillsboro’s highly respected volunteer fire department. After the fire dept and training facility on Broad St. was updated in 2002, the Fireman’s Clubhouse building has been used exclusively as a public building available for rent to the public. Extensive remodeling was performed to the interior of the building in 2018. Its setting in Hillsboro’s Lake Park makes this an ideal smaller venue for showers, graduation and birthday parties, family reunions, receptions, etc. Reservations can be made by contacting City Hall at 217 532-5566.
For more information, check out tabs / pages for Central Park, Lakes, and Sherwood Forest Campground.
Hillsboro Parks Office
761 City Lake Rd.
Hillsboro, IL 62049