Many military and civilian residents of Lebanon, a small, pleasant college town 7 miles northeast of Scott AFB, are employed at the base. Settled in 1814, this town of almost 4,500 is noted for its old, established homes, many dating from the 1800s, as noted by the St. Clair County Historical Society. One of the oldest surviving structures is the Mermaid House Inn, built in 1830, which British author Charles Dickens visited and praised in 1842. A large portion of the city, including the entire Main Street, has been designated a historic district and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Many of the city’s antique and specialty shops and restaurants reflect its mid-Victorian architecture and support an unhurried living and shopping atmosphere. Downtown St. Louis is only 30 minutes away via Interstate 64 or Interstate 70.
Lebanon is the site of McKendree University, the first college in Illinois, founded in 1828. The private four-year liberal arts Methodist college offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in numerous areas of study and an average class size of only 14. Historic buildings dating to the mid-1800s dot the campus alongside newer, state-of-the-art buildings that include the $5 million Piper Academic Center and the $10 million Hettenhausen Center for the Arts.
McKendree University’s former coach, Harry Statham, a 1960 alumnus, was named the “most winningest active basketball coach” with more than 1,000 victories. Statham also claimed the American Midwest Conference President’s Cup for 11 consecutive years and was inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. During his career, Statham was named AMC Coach of the Year eight times. Lebanon is also the hometown of Craig Virgin, world cross-country champion in 1980 to 1981.
Recreational facilities in Lebanon include Horner Park and its lake with fishing, tennis and basketball courts, baseball fields and a walking path. The Looking Glass Playhouse community theater includes many members from Scott.
Lebanon Community Unit School District No. 9 serves students in the area. The town’s public library has thousands of books, magazines, newspapers, periodicals, high-speed internet, free Wi-Fi, public-access computers, homework help, a Books to Go service for homebound adults and other resources.