Clinton, Missouri, (population 21,094) is the seat of Henry County and was founded in 1836. The first building on the town square was a storehouse built of logs, erected in February 1837.
Clinton was the site of small Civil War skirmishes in 1862 and again in1864. In 1870, the first train service came to Clinton. The city more than quadrupled its size in the following 10 years, with many businesses and three-story Victorian homes built during this period.
Coal mining has been an important industry in Henry County since the 1870s. Strip mining provided many jobs in the 1950s and ‘60s, but the high cost of land reclamation, acid rain, small coal seams, and the high sulfur content of the coal all contributed to the closing of the mines.
Another local industry in the early 1900s was raising poultry, and Clinton was known as the “Baby Chick Capital of the World.” But new choices offered to consumers in the postwar period, such as graded eggs and processed and frozen poultry meat, spelled the end of the hatchery business in Clinton by the late 1960s. Today, the health care industry, small manufacturing, and retail fuel Clinton’s economy.
The Clinton Square Historic District, dotted with buildings representing many eras in the town’s history, including some original storefronts, was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1989, Clinton Main Street, Inc. has been active in the preservation and revitalization of the historic district, and many of the facades have been renovated.
The Henry County Museum in Clinton encompasses several properties, with the main museum housed in the 1886 Anheuser-Busch building. The Adair Annex to the main building is composed of original facades and interiors that evoke the streets of a village in the late 1800s. The annex also includes an art gallery. Also part of the museum, the restored 1887 DeLozier Building serves as a performing arts center and meeting facility. The nearby Homestead, an 1880s farmstead, features an 1856 dog trot style log house, a barn, a corn crib, a smoke house, and an outhouse.
Each year the museum celebrates “Living History” on the night following Thanksgiving, where reenactors bring the late 1800s to life.
Designated a Preserve America Community in October 2009.