Illinois Historic Preservation Agency


The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency board of directors has dismissed the director and appointed its general counsel to hold the post on an interim basis. 


The director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has resigned following years of disagreements with the head of the state agency that oversees the museum.

Rauner Names Major GOP Contributor, Others To Historic Preservation Board

Oct 9, 2015
flickr/Katherine Johnson

Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed a long-time businessman and major Republican contributor to chair of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Board of Trustees.

 Gov. Bruce Rauner will now decide whether to separate the capital city's Lincoln showplace from its parent agency.


If you live in Springfield, you may have noticed there's a lot of empty space downtown that goes unused. But some people are trying to change that, by rehabbing historic buildings and turning them into residential space or businesses. Illinois tops the lists of states that used a federal tax incentive to rehab buildings that are privately owned and on the list of historical sites. Projects last year include an overhaul of Chicago's Wrigley Building, and Peoria's Hotel Pere Marquette. Carol Dyson is a tax incentives coordinator and architect with the state's historic preservation agency.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

A panel that considered whether to separate Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from the state's historic preservation agency released its findings on Wednesday. Convened at the request of both entities, the study recommends keeping the same oversight. Legislation has been proposed to split them apart. The report also suggests a reorganization of the state agency to improve what it calls the cultures of "politics" and "research."

Veterans in the Springfield area have been gathering over the past few months to discuss stories they are reading about war and other topics they can relate to. It's become a therapeutic and social outlet. Justin Blandford is with the state's Historic Preservation Agency, which is helping sponsor the events, held at the Old State Capitol. He joined us for this chat. Along with him was the group's facilitator, Jim Warner, who begins this interview telling us about why he got involved:  

Dana Thomas House Foundation /

The Dana Thomas House in Springfield is still drying out, after it was closed because of flooding last Thursday. It's a short-term problem that raises a longer-term concern.

The site's manager, Justin Blandford, says the Frank Lloyd Wright designed home is back open to visitors -- though the tours that resumed on Sunday did not go through the basement.

Blandford says the home is in a "drying out" period.

The situation raises broader concerns about what can be done to better protect and preserve the historic home. Blandford says improvements are needed.

State parks and historic sites now have to set up an "American Made" section in their gift shops.  

Governor Pat Quinn signed  into law this week a measure that is supposed to increase the number of American and Illinois-made goods state facilities sell.    Illinois has, in recent years, put special emphasis on promoting domestic products, especially those from in-state.

The Old State Capitol in Springfield is a popular tourist destination - it's where Abraham Lincoln gave his "House Divided" speech, but it will only be open to the public four days a week starting next month.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Monday announced that it's scaling back hours at more than a dozen of its sites.

Lincoln's New Salem in Petersburg, the former statehouse in Vandalia, and Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville are also affected.

Spokesman Chris Wills blames a 20 percent cut in state funding.

A budget cut is leading to a reduction in hours at many state historic sites. Officials say without more money, some sites could close completely.

This spring, lawmakers passed what they called a largely flat budget. One of the few areas of government to experience a significant funding cut was the Historic Preservation Agency, which runs dozens of sites, from the U.S. Grant Home in Galena to the Kincaid Mounds in far southern Illinois.

wikimedia commons

  Illinois' tourism numbers set another record in 2013, bringing in over 100 million visitors to the state. State agencies say they aim to grow those numbers more in the face of budget cuts.

For the third year in a row, Illinois broke its own record for visitors to the state. In 2013, travelers spent $34.5 billion dollars in Illinois, according to the state's office of tourism.


Any change in oversight for the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will have to wait.   Legislation that would have taken the facility away from the authority of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has stalled in the Illinois Senate.  

Rikeesha Phelon, a spokesperson for the Senate President, says the measure won't be called this spring.  This decision comes after calls for more study.  The plan could be revived in the fall session, following the election later this year.


Oak Ridge Cemetery is the 2nd most visited cemetery in the U.S.  The main reason is Abraham Lincoln.   The 16th President, his wife Mary and three of their four sons are interred there.

Since last fall, visitors could go see the tomb and stand outside.  But the interior was closed off for maintenance work.  It re-opens on Tuesday April 1.

visit Galena

More than two dozen Illinois buildings and downtown districts have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.  

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says 23 buildings and 11 historic districts were added to the register in 2013.  

They include everything from a mausoleum in the suburban Chicago community of Beecher and an East St. Louis hotel to historic districts in Galena and Plainfield and a Chicago furniture factory.  

Inclusion on the list means properties are deemed worthy of preservation and makes them eligible for financial incentives.  

Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

On Thursday morning, a unique barn near Carrollton will begin a trip to a new location where it will be preserved for decades to come. The plan to move the Fry Octagonal Barn, rather than see it torn down, is the result of cooperation between the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Workers will start moving the barn, located on North Park Road in Carrollton, (,-90.4013) at 9 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 19. The move should take about two days.


More than 2 million people a year visit Illinois state historic sites.  The locations play a big role in both state and local economies.   But they often lack political muscle.
So a more coordinated effort is underway to bring back the Historic Preservation caucus in the Illinois General Assembly.

Speaking on WUIS’ Illinois Edition, Chris Wills with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says there is a need: