Thursday, February 22, 2007

Strawbridge-Shepherd House

Today the University of Illinois at Springfield and the Iles House Foundation announced an agreement on the Strawbridge-Shepherd House, an 1845 home on University land.

The University has granted the Foundation a 10-year lease and the two institutions will work together to preserve and maintain the property. Some restoration work began in late November, as seen in these pictures.

Details about the agreement appear in today's issue of the State Journal-Register. The Foundation has raised seed funds to launch this project, and it welcomes contributions from the public. Eventually the Strawbridge-Shepherd House will serve Sangamon County as the Iles House serves Springfield, as places for preserving and learning about a remarkable past.

Pictures by Dick Hart

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Robert Davis

On Feb 20, Iles House hosted the Sangamon County Historical Society. The guest speaker was Robert Davis, who delivered a moving first-person account of Andrew Lewis, a slave who escaped to freedom and fought in the Civil War with the 29th Illinois Regiment.

Mr. Davis is pictured here with his wife, Patricia J. Davis, who works in recruitment for the SIU School of Medicine. A fiscal officer with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Mr. Davis holds degrees from Princeton and Chicago, and he has taught at Lincoln Land and the University of Illinois at Springfield.

He grew up in Detroit, where he heard stories about the Civil War from his parents and grandparents. Born in 1886 and 1889, his grandparents lived near Comer, Georgia, and spoke often about General Sherman's army marching through Georgia.

Mr. Davis is active with Civil War re-enactors and hopes one day to form an African-American cavalry unit, complete with uniforms and horses. Recently he joined the board of directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association.

Pictures by Dick Hart

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Meacham Reception

The speaker of the hour on Lincoln Day was Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, seen here making a hasty departure to try to beat the Feb 12 blizzard. (See below for update.)

On the evening of February 11, the Iles House hosted a reception for the Abraham Lincoln Association. The event capped a year of presidency of the ALA for Richard Hart, seen above in the center, and flanked by Robert Lenz and Richard Marroc.

Also attending was Kathryn Harris, Director of Library Services for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

Update: Mr. Meacham's jet taxied to the end of the runway at Capitol Airport, but it could not take off. Thanks to the Big Snow, he spent part of Valentine's Day still in Lincoln Land.

Pictures by Dulany Sriner.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Lincoln Days

Much excitement in Springfield this weekend, as citizens gather to mark the 198th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. A reception for distinguished guests will be held at the Iles House at 6 pm on Sunday, February 11.

On Monday, February 12, the Abraham Lincoln Association will hold its annual dinner at the Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center. The Association president this year is Richard E. Hart, a Springfield attorney and founding member of the Iles House board.

The banquet speaker is Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek and author of distinguished books on civil rights, the Roosevelt-Churchill friendship, and religion in American political life. His address title is "The Will of God Prevails: Abraham Lincoln and American Religion."

Also of historic note: on Saturday, February 10, the junior U. S. Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, declared his candidacy for President in the 2008 election. His setting was the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln made his famous "House Divided" speech against slavery.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lifelong Learning

Recent visitors to the Iles House included members of the Academy of Life-Long Learning, sponsored by Lincoln Land Community College.

Over forty seniors from the Springfield area enjoyed a tour of the House and a presentation by John Alexander. Mr. Alexander was a member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention in the 1960s. He now owns Books on the Square, a store in Virden that specializes in the history and genealogy of Macoupin County.

As you may tell from the presence of heavy coats, the winter afternoon was cold, but good cheer and warm smiles prevailed.

Pictures and story by Dick Hart.