City History

Perryville, Missouri, is a fourth-class city located in Perry County. The City actually traces its origins to Missouri Statehood. On August 7, 1821, three days prior to the official admission of Missouri to the Union, the County was given 51 acres that became the original town.

The community was incorporated as a village in 1831, but this incorporation was allowed to lapse. The town was reincorporated in 1856 and became a city of the fourth class in 1882, when it adopted an ordinance to that effect. The City retains its status as a fourth-class city, although it has been eligible for third-class status for some years.

Areas of Growth

Perryville is the County Seat of Perry County. The City grew as a commercial and service center for the surrounding, generally rural areas. Besides commerce, the community also benefited from the St. Mary’s of the Barren’s Seminary (historic seat of the American Vincentians) that provided traffic and talent. The other main draw was the Perryville’s government functions as the County Seat.


By 1860, the U.S. Census counted 336 persons in Perryville. In 10 years, this population had topped 500.Commerce was evident in advertisements for a furniture store, two grocers, a dry goods store, an enterprise advertising stoves (presumably in association with the blacksmith), a hotel / restaurant, and even a jeweler.

In 1892, the Perryville, Chester, and Ste. Genevieve Railroad brought rail service to Perryville. In 1904, the Frisco Railroad Line laid its tracks through the County and built the first railroad depot. Agriculture in the County continued to thrive. Bread from flour made in Perry County won first prize at both the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair and the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

The first census following incorporation was performed in 1860 and counted 336 persons. This had more than doubled to 754 by 1880 and doubled again to 1,708 in 1910.


In 1913, the first power plant was built to provide Perryville with electric lights. The Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1923 and launched one of the first economic development efforts in the nation. After raising $100,000 and building one of the first industrial spec buildings, International Shoe Company was persuaded to expand their operations by opening a Perryville plant. The population boomed again, more than doubling from a 1920 level of 1,763 to a 1940 level of 3,907.

A second International Shoe Company plant opened in 1940, further enhancing this benign cycle. However, by 1964, a domestic economic downturn accompanied by strong and growing foreign competition led to the closing of the original shoe plant. The
shock of this development, including the immediate loss of around 250 jobs from the local economy, served to reinvigorate the economic development program.

Economic Growth

The dedicated efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, the Perryville Development Corporation, and City officials led to the development of the Perryville Industrial Park and the establishment of an Enterprise Zone. Since its opening, the Perryville Industrial Park has thrived and is now home to a diverse mix of industries.

The completion of the Interstate 55 corridor in 1972 was also an important milestone in the City’s economic development. Located adjacent to the I-55 corridor, Perryville gained access to the nationwide interstate transportation and distribution network and to an important incentive to prospective new businesses. The construction of the Highway 51 bypass removed heavy traffic through the City and paved the way for new commercial and service growth near the I-55 interchange.

Today, the City of Perryville is home to a healthy and diverse economy.