German farmers drawn by fertile prairie settled around what became Breese in Clinton County, part of the Metro East region of southern Illinois’ Greater St. Louis Metropolitan area, in 1816. The railroad arrived in 1855, the same year 20 blocks were laid out for the town, followed by a post office, businesses, schools, churches, a town improvement society, a volunteer fire department, water works and an electric power plant.
Residents named their new town “Breese” after county resident, U.S. senator and jurist Sidney Breese, a moving force behind the Illinois Central Railroad.
The town supports an elementary school, a high school, a busy public library and Bent Oak Golf Course. As for green space, Breese maintains several parks, including one dedicated to soccer, for residents of all ages, and a public pool with a splash pad. The historic Avon Theatre downtown, which opened in 1914 as the Grand Theatre, a 450-seat venue for the new silent films, is now home to the Clinton County Showcase, a nonprofit community arts group dedicated to promoting art, music and theater events.
The nearly 4,500 residents of Breese espouse the motto, “Proud of our past, planning for our future.” To learn more about the town, go to www.breese.org or call 618-526-7731.