Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Maisenbacher House

The Maisenbacher House, a classic brick Italian home of the 1850s, sits on South 7th Street and is a place that Mr. Lincoln knew in his daily life. Now its survival is threatened by development of the Springfield Clinic. As this photo indicates, initial dismantling of the building occurred this fall.

Many forces in the community have rallied to oppose this attack on the Aristocracy Hill neighborhood, from the Springfield Historical Sites Commission to private citizens like Job Conger.

Discussions are underway between the Clinic and several groups, including the Iles House Foundation, about preserving the Maisenbacher. If you think Springfield should save its heritage, not tear it down, please lend your voice. Leave comments here, write to the Journal-Register, or call the Iles House Foundation--at the number above.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fall Candlelight Tours

Elijah and Malinda Iles welcomed about 400 guests into their home for candlelight tours on the evenings of Oct 26 & 27.

Visitors were guided throughout the home, learning about its architecture and construction, its many famous guests, its various owners as well as its two relocations and the efforts made over the years for its preservation.

Dave Stevens uses his cane to point out the many features and fine details of the house.

Visitors ascend the stairway to the upper story to tour the bedrooms and see more period furniture and antiques from the Barringer Collection and other donors.

Dave Barringer guides a group of visitors through the upper story. After touring the historic areas of the house, guests were invited to the basement for fresh baked cookies, hot chocolate and cider.

Photos by Logan McMinn

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Magical Day

Old Settler's Day was a huge success, beyond everyone's dreams. More than 1,000 visitors attended the 4-hour gathering on Oct 20, a perfect fall day of clear skies and bright sunshine.

The visitors took away so many memories, from a horse and cart carrying riders along the prairie grass. . .

. . . to a concert of Civil War-era music by the Illinois Cavalry Band. Guests sat on straw bales before the Strawbridge-Shepherd House, its exterior newly restored and trimmed.

At Mrs. Shepherd's Pantry, volunteers sold donated pumpkins, preserves, pies and cakes. All proceeds will benefit phase 2 of the restoration, set to continue in 2008.

Big surprise of the day: arrival of the Shepherd Family, three generations from Knoxville, Iowa. They told stories about life in the house, described its rooms and furniture, and volunteered to provide more assistance in the future.

Years ago, Old Settlers Day was a tradition to honor those who settled in Springfield before the Winter of 1830-31. Several descendants of those pioneers attended yesterday and told their stories. All the organizers agree: it was a magical day, full of generosity and happiness, giving life once more to a bygone era.

Pictures by Dick Hart
Memories by R-Lou Barker

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fall Festivals

This fall has been festive for the
Iles House Foundation
and its growing circle of friends.

Oct. 11: Springfield Polka Club dances at a nursing home
and holds a pizza party at the Iles House.

Oct 15: Mark McDonald, host of Illinois Story on WSEC,
films a segment on SS House for airing Oct 18-22.
Here, he interviews R-Lou Barker about early bone china.

Oct 19: a reception at Iles House to benefit the SS House.
Kerry Franke readies the oyster bar for Betty Franke and Tom Bundy.
Tom is restoration director at the Strawbridge-Shepherd House.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fall Work at SS House

With the arrival of fall, we have completed
Stage 1 of restoring the Strawbridge-Shepherd House.
Next, we must button down the house for winter
and raise funds for Stage 2.

Here, the fund-raising committee works at plans
for a large October Event. More news of that soon!

Ongoing work: replacing the roof with cedar shingles
and restoring the original shutters to the windows.
Note the classic Greek Revival look of the front face.

Our restoration contractor, Tom Bundy,
measures the original basement opening.

Also planned: extensive tree work to remove
dead or dying limbs. The trees are nearly
as old as the house!

All pictures by R-Lou Barker of Springfield.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Citizens

On September 7, 2007,
Ann and Dick Hart attended
a Citizenship Ceremony
held in the Old State Capitol.

Seated in the House of Representatives,
candidates for citizenship await
the entry of Judge Jean Scott.

The candidates swear allegiance to
the United States of America
before the clerk of the District Court.

The new citizens receive
certificates and greetings from
Judge Scott, Judge Holmes, and the Clerk.

The Harts' friend, Maritza Monk,
formerly of Mexico City,
just prior to becoming a
United States Citizen.

Pictures by Dick Hart.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lincoln Film

Early in August, the Iles House became a movie set.
The film depicts the life of Abraham Lincoln
and is using several historic Springfield locations.

The cast consists of many Iles House docents
and re-enactors from the 114th Civil War Regiment.
Here, they are in costume and waiting for their close-ups.

Abe and Mary Lincoln, preparing for a shot.
Technicians "smoked" the set to soften the light.

On the front porch, technicians check still images
for the balance of color and light.

The ladies of 1858, getting ready for a scene.
The movie will play at the Lincoln Library and Museum.
Release is expected in early 2008.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lincoln Highway

Click on map to enlarge.

The Lincoln Highway was America's first coast-to-coast road, passing through 14 states on a journey of 5,869 miles, from New York to California. As a young Army officer, Dwight Eisenhower traveled it in 1919, and that experience inspired his later call for a federal Interstate highway system.

You may still travel the road, and a Lincoln Highway Association exists to preserve and publicize. Check out that site for a description of the Illinois section. Might make a good auto trip for early fall. Here's a book site with many photos of the highway today.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

SS House Restoration

Dick Hart recently visited the SS House site to check on its progress.

Replacing the old roof and shingles.

Repairing the stone foundation.

Replacing sills and studs.

View from east side.
Original house to right, ell to left.

Pictures by Richard Hart

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

SS House Again

More pictures by R-Lou Barker of restoration work at Strawbridge-Shepherd House.

Concrete blocks, original stones, new sills.

Timbers for use as sills or beams.

Five-acre prairie behind the house.

Original barn, to the rear.

Monday, July 16, 2007

SS House Today

R-Lou Barker made a recent visit to the Strawbridge-Shepherd House and shot pictures of its restoration progress. (Click on pictures to enlarge.)

An elegant sign announces the project and its sponsors.

Front view of a Greek-Revival beauty.

Tom Bundy, at work on the foundation.

Old stones and sill; note the rotting.

More pictures to come in next entry.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

SS House Back Area

At the Strawbridge-Shepherd House,
Tom Bundy and crew are restoring the back area.
Above, a workman excavates below the first floor near HVAC ducts.

Workers replaced the old collapsed foundation with new sills and beams.

The exposed basement reveals early stone and brick work, ca. 1850.

If you want to contribute time or money to the project,
please call or write to the Iles House (address above).

Pictures by Dick Hart

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Preservation Award

On May 14, the Elijah Iles House Foundation was named Preservationist of the Year at the 15th annual Mayor's Awards for Historic Preservation. Several hundred were present for the event, held at The Inn at 835.

Describing the Iles House as “one of the real jewels in the city,” Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin said the award honors the Foundation for its efforts over the past decade to restore the structure, which is the city's oldest residence.

The organization also won recognition for its work, with the University of Illinois at Springfield, to restore one of the oldest farmsteads in central Illinois, the 1841 Strawbridge-Shepherd House at the edge of the UIS campus.

Winners of the awards are selected by the Springfield Historic Sites Commission. Dave Barringer, Mike Dunbar and Dick Hart accepted the award on behalf of the Foundation.

Above and below are images taken at the S-S House on Sunday, May 20. Members of the House committee are discussing restoration of the four-acre prairie behind the house and renovation of the house foundation and sill, which are badly deteriorated.

Donations to support this work are welcome. Please use the phone or e-mail address above.

PS: The house needs 8 volunteer docents to lead tours this season. If interested, please call!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

SS House Progress

This picture dates from last April 19, when the Strawbridge-Shepherd committee visited the House to meet with Professor William Siles and students from his UIS class on historic preservation.

Dick Hart is speaking to the group, which included Carolyn Oxtoby (right) and other members of the committee. The restoration team has made great progress on the House since last winter, and we hope to have more pictures soon.

Photo by Carol J. Dyson

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mourning Period

More images of the Lincoln mourning decorations have arrived.
Here, volunteers attach traditional funeral bunting to the porch railing.

This group of visitors represented Company A-14 Michigan Infantry.
They are members of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Viewed from any angle, the house has a somber appearance.
The mourning period ends on May 4, anniversary of the Lincoln funeral.

Pictures by Dulany Sriner

Sunday, April 15, 2007

In Memoriam

Abraham Lincoln died 142 years ago today, at 7:22 am on April 15, 1865. His friends, Elijah Iles and Robert Irwin, mourned as did all of Springfield.

In memory of his death, the Iles House is decorated in mourning drapery from April 15 until the Lincoln funeral date of May 4. A photo and a video of the decoration process appears on the State Journal-Register site.

This observance marks the first time since 1865 that Springfield has so honored the passing of its famous citizen and America's greatest President.

Tribute by Henry Ward Beecher, pastor of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, New York:

Four year ago, O Illinois, we took from your midst an untried man and from among the people. We return him to you a mighty conquerer. Not thine any more, but the nation's; not ours, but the world's. Give him place, O ye prairies. In the midst of this great continent his dust shall rest, a sacred treasure to myriads who shall pilgrim to that shrine to kindle anew their zeal and patriotism.

Pictures by Dick Hart