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Freeport is the county seat of Stephenson Countymarker, Illinoismarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 26,443 at the 2000 census. The mayor of Freeport is George W. Gaulrapp, elected in 2005.


Lincoln-Douglas debates monument, near downtown Freeport.
The Freeport Public Library on the cusp of downtown Freeport.
Originally called Winneshiek, the municipality when it was incorporated took its name from the generosity of Tutty Baker, who was credited with running a "Free Port" on the Pecatonica River. The name 'Winneshiek' was later adopted, and is preserved to this day, by the Freeport Community Theatre Group.

In 1837, Stephenson County was formed and in 1838, Freeport became its seat of government. Linked by a stagecoach with Chicagomarker, the community grew rapidly. In 1840, a frame courthouse was erected and the first school was founded. Within two years, Freeport had two newspapers and in 1853, the two were joined by a third which published in German. By then, the community had a population of 2,000.

On August 27, 1858, the second debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas took place in Freeport and gave the nation direction in the following years. Although Stephen Douglas won the election and retained his U.S. Senate seat, his reply to a question on slavery alienated the South, which called it the "Freeport Heresy," and split the Democratic Party. This enabled Abraham Lincoln to win the Presidency in 1860.

A monument to the debate was dedicated in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt and stands at this site. A life size statue recreating the event was dedicated in 1992. Another renowned statue, "Lincoln the Debator." by Leonard Crunelle, is a focal point in the city's Taylor Park. Each year there is also a reenactment of the debate, which has been shown on C-SPAN.

Freeport is known as the Pretzel City, and its public high school's team is named the Pretzels. The nickname is a reminder of Freeport's ethnic heritage; in the late 1850s, many Germans, both from Pennsylvania and from their European homeland, resettled in Stephenson County. They brought with them their love of pretzel snacks, and a pretzel bakery started up.

Freeport is home to the oldest Carnegie Library in Illinois and one of the first Carnegie Libraries designed by the famous Chicagomarker architectural firm of Patton and Miller.


Buildings in downtown Freeport, Illinois.
Freeport is located at (42.292003, -89.630377) . It is located approximately south of the Wisconsin Border, and at the center of a large agricultural area, located about west of Rockfordmarker. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.4 square miles (29.6 km²), of which, 11.4 square miles (29.6 km²) of it is land and 0.09% is water.

U.S. Route 20 is a four-lane divided highway that skirts the community's northern edge. At Rockford, it links with Interstate 90 and Interstate 39, giving Freeport residents easy access to the entire Interstate system. I-90 is the major route between Chicagomarker and Minneapolis-St. Paulmarker. I-39 extends from Rockfordmarker to Bloomingtonmarker, where it links with I-74 and I-55. From Freeport, U.S. Route 20 continues west to historic Galena, Illinoismarker, and the metropolitan area of Dubuque, Iowamarker.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.4 square miles (29.6 km²), of which, 11.4 square miles (29.6 km²) of it is land and 0.09% is water.

The area code for Freeport is 815 with an overlay area code of 779 .



As of the census of 2006-2008, there were 24,299 people, 12,864 households, and 6,845 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,316.9 people per square mile (894.8/km²). There were 12,471 housing units at an average density of 1,092.7/sq mi (422.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.77% White, 13.81% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.97% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.00% from other races, and 2.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.12% of the population.

There were 11,222 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,399, and the median income for a family was $43,787. Males had a median income of $35,870 versus $25,095 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,680. About 9.9% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.6% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.

Claim to fame

Freeport has three claims to fame (or infamy). First, it was the site of the second of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 and where Stephen A. Douglas articulated his Freeport Doctrine. Second, Freeport is the birthplace of Charles Guiteau, the assassin of U.S. President James Garfield in 1881. Third, William Avery Rockefeller, father of John D. Rockefeller, lived in Freeport; he died and was buried there.

Notable people

Freeport is the birthplace of several celebrities. Among them are:


Public - Freeport District 145 Schools[17135]

Jones-Farrar Early Learning Center[17136]

Five elementary schools (1st - 4th grade)
:International Baccalaureate (IB) magnet school[17137]
:Blackhawk Elementary School[17138]
:Center Elementary School[17139]
:Empire Elementary School[17140]
:Lincoln-Douglas Elementary School[17141]
:Taylor Park Elementary School[17142]

Carl Sandburg Middle school (5th - 6th grade)[17143]

Freeport Junior High school (7th - 8th grade)[17144]

Freeport High School (9th - 12th grade)[17145]

Transitional education facility.


Immanuel Lutheran[17146]
:Established 1877
:Daycare, Latch-key, Preschool - 12th grade
:Non-denominational Christian School

Aquin Catholic Schools[17147]
:Preschool - 12th grade
:Catholic School

Tri-County Christian Schools[17148]
:Established 1983
:Preschool - 8th grade
:Non-denominational Christian School

Mereih Christian Academy
:Established 1995
:Daycare, Latch-key, Preschool - 12th grade
:Non-denominational Christian School


Highland Community College

Serving thousands of students at the Freeport campus and at satellite locations throughout the district, Highland Community College offers 68 degree and certificate programs.[17149]

Columbia College-Freeport

Ranked in the top tier of "America's Best Colleges" by U.S.News & World Report and ranked in the top 20 of military friendly colleges[17150], Columbia College-Freeport is located on the Highland Community College campus.[17151]

Points of interest

Stephenson County Historical Society & MuseumThe mission of the Stephenson County Historical Society, in partnership with the Freeport Park District, is to preserve, present, and promote local and regional history. This is achieved by maintaining and collecting quality artifacts, by educating the community, by collaborating with other institutions and organizations, and by interpreting and professionally presenting our local history.

Jane Addams Hull House Museum

Don Opel ArboretumThis botanical garden has 3,000 plantings representing over 3,000 different species of ground coverings, trees and shrubs.

Park Hills Golf Course

Willow Lake

Little Cubs Field

Freeport Masonic Temple

Winneshiek Players

Freeport Art Museum

JETS Observatory

JETS, a student science club of Freeport High School, was established as a club for high school students to provide information regarding various careers in fields of science. The club provides a source of scientific recreation for high school students and the community of Freeport.

Parks Freeport Park District

One of Freeport's claim to fame is its park system.

Krape Park

Awarded "Outstanding Multi-use Facility" award by Illinois Parks and Recreation Association.[17152]
Heavily wooded Krape Park features a picturesque waterfall that tumbles down from a high limestone bluff.


:Krape Park's one-of-a-kind historical carousel
::Allan Herschell, 1959, Classic Metal (figures) Carousels, 2 row, Portable, 20 jumpers, 1 chariot, band organ no, original location,
::Alterations: One chariot space made wheelchair accessible. Rounding boards and shields replaced.[17153]
:Outdoor band shell, Koenig Amphitheater.
:Boat rental
:Tennis courts
:Nature trails
:Sledding hills
:Cross country skiing trails
:Bike path
:Baseball diamond
:Numerous picnic tables and a duck pond.
:Krape Park Kids Castle
:Yellow Creek Adventure Golf

Bidwell Park

:Size: 2 acres
:Presented by the heirs of Orlando B. Bidwell, Bidwell Park is located across the street from Freeport Memorial Hospital. It features a small shelter with restrooms, a softball field, and a playground.

Knowlton Park

:Size: <1 acre=""></1>
:Presented by the descendants of Dexter A. Knowlton to mark the 100th anniversary of his arrival to Freeport, Knowlton Park is located at the southeast corner of Broadway and Locust. It features a bronze tablet and tall Black Maple trees to shade benches and play equipment.

Read Park

:Read Park features the Read Park Family Aquatic Center, complete with a zero-depth swimming pool, water slides, spray features, and sand volleyball area and a 11,000 square foot concrete skate park (Sk8 Park) that features obstacles, ramps, rails, bowls and ledges for skateboard and in-line enthusiasts. One of the larger parks in Freeport, it also features a large pavilion, basketball courts, children’s playground, shuffleboard courts, tennis courts, and softball fields. It is also home to the newly added Little Cubs Field.

Oakdale Nature Preserve

: Over 133 acres of forests, streams and restored prairies including more than four miles of trails that wind through the Preserve as well as a 1/3-mile hard-packed accessible trail. In addition, Oakdale features a lodge, an auditorium and a nature center. Oakdale facilities are available for reunions, weddings, business meetings, retreats or gatherings.

Taylor Park

:Size: 74 acres
:Freeport Park District acquired Taylor Park in 1911; it features three lighted softball fields, concession stand, basketball courts, picnic shelter and Abraham Lincoln statue. Taylor Park is home to the Park District's adult softball leagues and tournaments, which draw large crowds during summer nights.

Wilbur Park

:Size: 1 Acre
:Donated by local industrialist W.T. Rawleigh and named after his son (who died during WWI),Wilbur Park was deeded over to Freeport Park District on July 13, 1948. The park features nicely landscaped terrain and playground equipment.

Winter Park


  1. Guelzom A. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The debates that defined america, page 162. Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-7432-7320-6
  2. [1]
  3. UT Dallas. Guide to the James J. “Jimmie” Mattern Collection. Biographical Sketch, page 3.
Freeport Art Museum


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