Franklin House was built in 1836. By the 1840's and 1850's the Franklin House was one of the largest and finest hotels in Alton. On September, 22, 1842, Abraham Lincoln, then an attorney, breakfasted with James Shields (both the namesakes of the Lincoln-Shields Recreation Area just west of the Clark Bridge in Alton- then called Sunflower Island), before going to the west side of the Mississippi River for a duel. The duel was later called off.
It was used as a popular boarding location for spectators of the renowned Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Lincoln himself used the Franklin House as his campaign headquarters. Citizens from states away came by train, steamboat, and from the nearby slave state of Missouri to witness the last day of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Alton.
Over the years, the building has served as a hotel, general store, grocery store, and apartment building. The building still stands on the west side of State Street near 3rd Street. It was bought by Benjamin Godfrey and changed proprietors several times over the years. The venue witnessed multiple remodels and, after falling into disrepair and being finally restored, it is now known as the Lincoln Lofts Apartment building.