The pioneer village of Hillsboro was less than a dozen years old when Solomon Harkey built his two story Federal style home in 1834. The Harkey family came to Hillsboro in 1830 from Iredell County, North Carolina, and Solomon established a tannery in the area of present day Central Park. In 1831, he was married to Sophia Cress, the daughter of Jacob and Catharine Bost Cress, pioneer settlers in the Hillsboro area. Mr. Harkey, or Uncle Sol, as old accounts often refer to him, became a prominent citizen and land owner in Montgomery County. He was a noted horseman and stockman and the first president of the Old Settlers Association.
Mr. Harkey died in 1892. In later years, the property was known as the home of Mrs. Emma Gilmore, a teacher of music in the Hillsboro schools, who lived in the house from 1906 until 1955. After Mrs. Gilmore's death, the property was sold to the Lingle Motor Company and was used for a warehouse for a number of years. After destruction of the Hiram Rountree house and several other old homes in the 1950's and 60's the Harkey House became the oldest house in Hillsboro.
In 1968, Lingle Motor Company wished to expand their operations to the property on which the Harkey House was located, just south and east of their garage. The house itself was offered to the Historical Society for preservation if it could be moved. An architect and historian from the Illinois Department of Conservation pronounced the house structurally sound and "a classic example of braced frame construction with all hewn beams, joists and sills". It was their opinion that the one story portion of the house was added later, possibly around 1890. After searching for a suitable site, the Gillies property one block south of the original location of the Harkey House was acquired by the Society, and the house was moved in October 1968 by the Cruickshank Company of Springfield. It was moved in one piece, including the one story section.