Nutt said he had
received no word but assumes the money is an Illinois FIRST grant
resulting from the letter he sent Gov. George Ryan six months ago.
He emphasizes that the grant is "not a done deal" since it could
still be removed. But since the General Assembly has adjourned and
the governor approved the funding, Nutt is optimistic it wonít be
removed or vetoed.
Nutt also said he
does not know whether the grant is for the proposed museum, athletic
center or unspecified "capital construction," as in the case of two
previous Illinois FIRST grants totaling $1.1 million. If either of
the last two is the case, Nutt said, heís ready to "put the hole in
Once designed as a
single structure, the proposed Lincoln College athletic center and
museum now stand separate in architectural drawings. At graduation
on May 11, Nutt formally kicked off the fund drive for the two
buildings, with a substantial sum from individual and governmental
sources already in the coffers.
The athletic and
convocation center site is on Nicholson Road, just beyond where it
bends off Ottawa Street. Tentatively called the Lincoln Center, the
building includes a multipurpose gymnasium with bleacher seating for
1,000, wrestling area, offices for all members of the athletic
department, locker rooms, a community fitness center, hall of fame
and training room.
The proposed Lincoln
College Museum is located on the corner of Keokuk and Ottawa, across
from the college library, on the former site of the college tennis
courts. The facade, including limestone columns and facing, is
designed to remind the viewer of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington,
D.C., and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to be
built in Springfield. "A stately museum to a stately president" is
how curator Ron Keller puts it.
Though Nutt expects
both structures to be built within a couple of years, the athletic
center will come first because it directly affects the students. "We
have to have the gym," Nutt said. The Davidson-Sheffer Gymnasium, in
current use, was built in 1933.
budget for both projects totals $6.5 million, with the athletic
center accounting for $4.5 million. The college already had $4.5
million in May, Nutt said, but some of it is designated for
scholarships and restricted gifts. Besides the fund drive and
Illinois FIRST application, he has asked for a federal grant to
cover approximately half the $2 million cost of the museum.
A factor in
fund-raising is the proposed federal Charity Recovery and
Empowerment Act, which has already passed the House of
Representatives. Retroactive to Jan. 1, 2002, it provides for the
conversion of IRAs to charitable purposes without tax consequences.
If the Senate passes the bill, Nutt expects to raise any money he
still needs in a short time.
account for splitting the original building plan. First, Nutt said,
vouchers for the first two Illinois FIRST grants totaling $1.1
million, which were expected to be earmarked for the museum, said
capital construction instead, so the money can be used for the
athletic center. The two checks have time limits ending in June and
July of 2003. Second, the combined structure grew too large for its
site. Finally, some donors prefer to support a separate museum.
Dennis Shoemaker of
Diversified Buildings in Morton is architect for both projects. The
athletic and convocation center comprises 40,000 square feet. Nutt
said that with chairs on the floor the gymnasium will seat up to
3,000. Besides hosting graduation ceremonies and being home to Lynx
teams, it can accommodate end-of-the-season tournaments.
Plans also include a
fitness center with aerobic, cardiovascular and ergonomic equipment.
Membership will be available to the public. A pet project of Nuttís
is the Logan County Hall of Fame, with photos of famous LC residents
from a variety of fields, though he expects sports to predominate.
Nutt hopes to install
a composition floor and dropped ceiling in Davidson-Sheffer
Gymnasium and use it for a variety of purposes. Physical education
classes, however, will be located in the new field house.
10,000-square-foot museum has an open design, specialized lighting
and environmental controls to protect the collection. Separate rooms
house the collegeís rare-book collection and a 50-seat tiered
lecture room, which will also be used for presentations to tour
groups. Work areas, a vault and a kitchen complete the main floor.
There is also a full basement.
Ron Keller, curator
of the museum, is in no hurry to build. The museum must last for 50
years, he said, so it is important to take time and be sure all
needs have been anticipated. Besides, Keller and assistant Paul
Gleason, both at LC for about two years, have not yet completed
inventorying the collection.
Museum collections and tourism
Most impressive to
tourists are artifacts such as the rails split by Lincolnís cousin
John Hanks in 1830 and the replica of Lincolnís chair in Fordís
Theatre. These three-dimensional objects are on display in the
current museum in McKinstry Library.
However, the museum
has many documents that are not displayed. These include letters
from every member of Lincolnís cabinet, correspondence between
Lincoln and his eldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, and documents from
people ranging from Robert E. Lee to Frederick Douglass.
Although most of the
collection deals with Lincolnís presidential years, Keller plans to
emphasize the young, unbearded, pre-presidential Lincoln in the new
museum because that was the man who lived here. Tourists want to
know Lincoln as he was in Logan County, Keller said.
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He sees the LC museum
and the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield as
"both in business doing the same thing ó increasing awareness of
Lincoln and educating the public." He and Nutt believe both will
increase tourism in the area.
About 2,300 visitors
toured the college museum last year, representing at least 30 states
and five foreign countries. The single biggest month is May, with
its many school tours, but the LC Parents Weekend logs the biggest
day. Most school tours are elementary classes, with five scheduled
this week. In summer, charter tours often have an Abraham Lincoln
theme but sometimes focus on Route 66.
Admission is free and
expected to remain so in the new structure. Keller said that because
the museum has "so many great benefactors" it need not be
self-sustaining. However, some revenue is generated by sale of items
such as Lincoln busts and statues, beanbag Lincolns, prints,
placemats, pens and pencils, toy soldiers, Lincoln penny earrings,
and over 40 book titles.
In the new museum
Keller plans exhibits consisting of panels using local sources, such
as Lawrence Stringerís 1911 "History of Logan County, Illinois,"
with Lloyd Ostendorf prints as background. Ostendorf was widely
known for his depictions of Abraham Lincoln. The college owns one of
his paintings, "Lincoln and the Women He Loved," showing portraits
of Lincoln, his mother, stepmother and sister. Keller has obtained
permission to use other prints from Ostendorfís heirs, who he says
are "quite excited" about the project.
The museum design
allows space for rotating displays as well as the permanent
collection. Nutt expects to see loaned exhibits from other
institutions at least twice a year. "We send Lincoln artifacts to
museums all over the world," he said, "so a lot of museums owe us."
He envisions exhibits on various themes, not necessarily
Lincoln-related, put together with pieces from several collections.
The LC museumís
collection contains a repository of presidents, including signatures
of all U.S. presidents.
It also holds many
Logan County articles and maps. These are mostly documents and not
of high interest to tourists, but Keller does currently display a
1905 plat book and an 1800s document about building a road to
Middletown. Artifacts of local interest include a table owned by
Robert Latham and a chair from the Scully house. The new museum will
have a somewhat larger local history display. Keller said this idea
is still evolving.
For about a year the
college museum has been home to the Edward Madigan Collection,
consisting of papers dealing with the Lincoln nativeís years as
congressman and secretary of agriculture, books on state government
and agriculture which he collected as a state representative,
pictures, and some personal items. At the request of Madiganís
family a few books and letters were de-acquisitioned from the Bush
Presidential Library. Again, the collection is not of high tourist
interest but noteworthy in Logan County and Lincoln College history.
Madigan was a 1955 graduate and trustee of the school. "Itís a
priority in our minds" and worthy to be part of the permanent
exhibition, Keller said, even though the display will not be large.
The Lincoln Group of
Illinois, consisting of over 100 amateur Lincoln scholars currently
based at Illinois Benedictine College in Lisle, is moving its
headquarters to the LC museum in June. The group has some archives
and produces a newsletter, which will be coordinated with the one
published by the museum. Keller sees the move as a step toward
creating a research center.
architectural drawings show stoplights and crosswalks at the
intersection of Keokuk and Ottawa, Nutt does not anticipate much
foot traffic across Keokuk. "I donít view the museum as a part of
the college," he explained, expecting most visitors to be tourists.
Keller, on the other
hand, dreams of a museum and history program that will be a magnet
for students. Rosemary Porter, Kellerís first student intern, has
worked this year at "transcribing and documenting material on Logan
County history and Civil War warrant records, researching and
writing about Abraham Lincoln, assisting in the preparation of
museum displays, and giving tours for visitors to the museum," he
said. Her article on the Lincoln courtship appeared in the spring
2002 issue of the museumís quarterly, The Lincoln Newsletter.
Ron Keller grew up in
Newton, Ill., and earned baccalaureate and masterís degrees in
history at Eastern Illinois University. He came to Lincoln College
after teaching one year at the elementary level and six years in
middle and high school. Besides being curator of the museum, he
teaches four courses per semester in history and government.
Former Lincoln Junior
High School history teacher Paul Gleason is assistant curator. Among
other tasks, he researches and answers questions on local history.
The two are organizing, cataloging and preserving materials on Logan
County in the 1860s borrowed from the local courthouse. This project
sparked collaboration on a book on Logan County soldiers in the
Civil War. Gleason is currently writing an article to submit to The
Lincoln Newsletter on how Logan County became involved in the war,
the number of troops and their experience at Shiloh. He expects to
use the article as prelude to the book.
After the museumís move, its present
quarters in McKinstry Library will become an art gallery, and the
current Layman Gallery, with entrance beside the card catalog, will
be absorbed into the college library.