Bicentennial Commission earns grant

By Crystal Kang

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the Champaign County Lincoln Bicentennial Commission received a federal grant to furnish a museum outside the jury assembly room at the Champaign County Courthouse.

In addition to the $116,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the commission has applied for three other grants as well. If the commission successfully raises more money than intended for reconstruction, it plans to set aside a reserve fund that will help cover the cost of maintaining the museum.

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“It’s not going to be your typical museum with cases on display,” said Barbara Wysocki, chair of the Lincoln Exhibits Committee.

“The outside of it will be a replica of the early woodframe building during Lincoln’s time. There will be a clapboard with a big sign identifying it as Lincoln’s museum.”

Wysocki added that once inside the museum, visitors will encounter a courtroom similar to the one in the days of Lincoln. Wysocki said the purpose of the museum is to offer an educational resource for not only children but adults, too.

There will be an educational unit for children that their teachers can use in the classroom and additional activity and work (at the museum),” Wysocki said. “We need to structure these cases so young children can grasp it.”

Wysocki said the museum will have some simulations and change visuals periodically so it becomes an area of interest that can be freshly revisited from time to time.

The city of Urbana and the Champaign County Lincoln Bicentennial Commission also erected a commemorative sign at the corner of Race and Main streets in the parking lot by Busey Bank. In this location stood a photographic studio where a famous picture was taken of Lincoln, who was the first candidate to use photographs in a campaign.

“There aren’t any buildings standing from the time of Lincoln in Urbana, so we created a marker,” said Mayor Laurel Prussing.

Prussing added that Lincoln still remains a crucial part of Urbana’s history.

“Lincoln traveled on horseback as an attorney from county to county,” said Prussing. “He practiced law in the 1840s through 1850s in the 8th Judicial Circuit, so that’s why he came to Urbana.”