Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lincoln for the Ages

As the birthday of Abraham Lincoln nears on February 12, interest in him rises. A number of books have appeared in recent years that examine every aspect of his private life, from mental health to sexual preference.

The current issue of Slate magazine reviews two books that will be of more lasting value and deserve to be part of anyone's collection who admires Lincoln and early Illinois history.

They are Richard Carwardine, Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power and Allen Guelzo, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President. Both are studies of Lincoln's religious thought, showing that he evolved considerably in his beliefs during the Civil War.

Good Web Sites: the Lincoln Log, a daily chronology of his life, and Lincoln Net, a large collection on antebellum Illinois.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Delano Law Offices

The death of Charles H. "Chick" Delano III on January 6, 2006, reminds us that he was a loyal supporter of historic preservation in Springfield. During the 1980s, he purchased the building at the corner of Sixth and Adams and restored it to a 19th-century appearance as Delano Law Offices.

The site has a long history. Elijah Iles and two partners built the American House Hotel there, known as "the finest three-story house west of the Alleghenies." Then Rheuna Lawrence, father of Susan Lawrence Dana, partially razed the building in 1880-81 and erected the present structure on the hotel's hand-fitted foundation.

Occupied by the John Bressmer drygoods store until 1921, the building later became Roland's, a clothing retailer. That store closed and the building sat in ill repair until Mr. Delano bought and restored it.

He was also a life-long member of Blessed Sacrament Church, where he supported expansion and renovation of that building, on Laurel between Walnut and Glenwood.