Street Address
218 E Main St
Carmi, IL 62821
Mailing Address
PO Box 121
Carmi, IL 62821
Irregular hours; by appt.
Lucinda Birk Conley, Board Member
phone: 618-382-2048


General membership meetings are held in the spring and fall, with the latter featuring the annual Heritage House Award presentation. The background of this page is the Heritage House Plaque, and I have added a listing of all 32 houses honored since 1971, called heritagehouses.html.

Call or e-mail us for more information. Members receive a quarterly newsletter, which features queries and articles, which helps to link our 350 members from all corners of the US and several foreign countries. We had some good info about the 1925 tornado in a recent issue, and usually run a page of corrections to Harriet Vaught's cemetery books. Barbara Hughes is the editor. The photo below is of Carmi in the 1920s or 30s, apparently taken from the current location of the Carmi city building. The Ratcliff is in the foreground, while the tallest building in the background is the old Hay-Webb bank, which was called the Radio Building by the time I knew it. The structure was destroyed in a spectacular fire around 1984.

Society's 2010 projects include working on our old buildings, especially the Robinson Stewart, a spring meeting with a guest speaker discussing Illinois place names, several education programs, along with New Harmonies. We are working with the Southern Illinois Association of Museums on marketing, preservation and tourguide training.


to preserve and protect white county's history.


The WCHS was founded in 1957, and established its first museum in Carmi when the Ratcliff Inn was saved from destruction in 1960. Abraham Lincoln stayed in the Inn in 1840, and its original owner served in many county offices from 1818 to 1848. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency awarded the society a grant in 2001 to replace the heating system, add plate glass windows, and remove soft bricks that were thought to be wicking moisture into the first floor. It turned out that soft bricks were not the major cause of the building's moisture problems, but that the foot of dirt and rubble that had settled on the original stone floor of the Ratcliff basement was causing much of the problem. A channel was dug around the basement with tiling used to draw off wetness. The workers also found a lack of a proper vapor barrier on many interior surfaces of plaster covered bricks. Problems with moisture persist in the building. Lots has changed in Carmi since the Inn was constructed in 1828, including the depth of streets and sidewalks.