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Thursday, June 3, 2004 08:21 pm

Besides Abe...

The Dana-Thomas House
The Air Combat Museum showcases the role of military aviation with an array of aviation memorabilia, including the gun sight from a Messerschmitt 109, and historical aircraft, including a Beechcraft AT-11, used to train bombardiers in World War II; a P-51; a Vought F4U-5 Corsair; and a Soko Galeb, Yugoslavia’s first jet. Watch aircraft being restored to fly again. Air Combat Museum, Capital Airport, 835 Capital Airport Dr., 217-494-8816, www.aeroknow.com/acm.htm. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Visitors are welcome anytime during regular hours. Guided and group tours are $20, by appointment only.
CAMP BUTLER NATIONAL CEMETERY One of 14 sites designated national cemeteries by President Abraham Lincoln, Camp Butler was also used to train Union troops and served as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Civil War. Eight hundred Confederate soldiers are buried here. So, too, are 39 German military personnel, interred here after unsuccessful efforts to locate their kin after World War II. Camp Butler National Cemetery, 5063 Camp Butler Rd., Route 36 E., 217-492-4070, www.cem.va.gov/CEM/ cems/nchp/campbutler.asp. Office open 7:30 a.m-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. The gate to the cemetery is open daily until sunset.
DANA-THOMAS HOUSE STATE HISTORIC SITE In 1902, Susan Lawrence Dana, the socialite daughter of a Springfield industrialist, commissioned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a new residence around the existing family home. Trusting in Wright’s genius, Dana spared no expense, and Wright went all-out in what’s considered his first full expression of the Prairie Style. When it was finished, in 1904, the $60,000 project was the largest residence Wright had built — 35 rooms on three main levels, encompassing 12,000 square feet of living space. Dana loved to entertain, and her house was designed with that purpose in mind. The grand entrance is theatrical; one enters the house as though walking onto a stage. The three floors contain 16 varying levels. In the early 1980s, to preserve this architectural gem, the state of Illinois acquired the residence from then-owner Thomas Publishing. The Dana-Thomas House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes the house, programs, and special events, was formed soon after the decision was made to restore it to its former grandeur. Today it is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Restored to its original elegance, the house contains the largest collection of Wright furniture and art-glass windows in the world. Its panoramic mural is the only intact painting of its kind created by internationally renowned artist George Niedecken, who painted many murals for Wright. During the $3.1 million restoration of windows, heating, and air conditioning and the installation of a new wheelchair lift, slated for summer, special efforts will be made to minimize interference with visitors.
At Dana’s request, Wright also designed a library for the Lawrence School in honor of her father, the late Rheuna Lawrence. Not too long after Wright designed the space — one of only nine interiors Wright designed for a building that wasn’t his — the school converted the library into a classroom. However, Wright’s original construction records were discovered in his Taliesin West studio, in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the library was restored in the 1980s. It is now part of the Lawrence Education Center. Dana-Thomas House, 301 E. Lawrence Ave., 217-782-6776, www.dana-thomas.org. Guided tours take about an hour. Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed.-Sun. (The Sumac Shop, a gift shop, is also open 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) Call ahead to schedule guided group tours of 10 or more. Suggested donation is $3 for adults and $1 for children. Lawrence Memorial Library, Lawrence Education Center, 101 E. Laurel St., 217-525-3144. Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Located at its current site since 1969, the museum preserves countless artifacts of Civil War history. Several flags on display were carried into battle. Other items include an impressive array of rifles, medals, photos, currency, drums, uniforms, and letters from soldiers at the front. The organization also has a complete set of War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Other volumes relating to the war may be used for research on-site. A museum gift shop offers a variety of books about the Civil War. Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War Museum, 503 S. Walnut St., 217-544-0616. www.duvcw.org. Open 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tue.-Sat. May 1-Oct. 31 (winter hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.) Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
EDWARDS PLACE Edwards Place is the oldest house in Springfield that remains standing on its original foundation. The mansion, built in 1833, was purchased 10 years later by Benjamin S. and Helen Dodge Edwards. For many years, the mansion was at the center of Springfield’s social and political life. A rally for Stephen A. Douglas was held here. In 1913, Edwards Place was deeded to the Springfield Art Association. Several major collections of art are maintained in the house. More modern artwork is on view at the SAA Gallery. The association also offers a variety of art and art-appreciation classes. Scheduled gallery exhibits include the SAA Youth and Adult Student Art Exhibit, May 19-June 16; 1830° F, an invitational display of Illinois ceramics, June 30-Aug. 11; and Our Town, a collection of early Springfield photographs from the State Journal-Register collection, Aug. 25-Oct. 27. Edwards Place, 700 N. Fourth St., 217-523-2631, springfieldart.org. Open for tours at 11 a.m.-2 p.m., on the hour, Tue.-Sat. (groups of more than 10 must call ahead for scheduling). The gallery is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat. Admission to the gallery is free; a $3 donation is suggested for tours of Edwards Place.
When John Wilkes Booth assassinated the Great Emancipator, he leaped to the stage, caught his heel on the flag that hung from Lincoln’s box seat, and sprained his ankle on landing. That flag, bearing the tear inflicted by Booth’s heel, is now on display at this unique museum, which is within walking distance of the Lincoln Home, on Eighth Street. The collection includes tintype photos by Matthew Brady, a rare drawing of the infamous Andersonville prison camp, and a complete list of Union soldiers held there during the war. Owned by the National Women’s Relief Corps, an auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, the museum also maintains many volumes of Civil War history that may be examined on-site. Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Museum, 629 S. Seventh St., 217-522-4373. www.gar-museum.com. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sat. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
Abe Lincoln visited this house where it was built, at Sixth and Cook streets. Vachel Lindsay visited after Latham T. Souther had saved the oldest house in Springfield and moved it to South Fifth Street. It was moved to its current location, at the corner of Seventh and Cook, in 2004. Until recently, the house was thought to have been built by Elijah Iles in 1832, but newly discovered information indicates that it was built in 1828 by Charles Matheny, another city founder. A newly installed elevator, accessible from special parking behind the house, provides access to visitors with limited mobility. As the collection of historical furnishings and artifacts grows, a busy year of meetings and special events is planned for 2007. Call or check the Web site for schedule updates. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed.-Sat., March-December. Donations accepted. 217-492-5929, iles-house.blogspot.com.

Once the home of the Illinois State Fairgrounds’ own fire station, this site has been transformed into a museum by the state fire marshal. Continuing this year are the ever-popular exhibits about fire safety for the kids and the humongous collection of firefighter-squad patches from all over the world. New in 2007 is an expanded display of photos of famous and infamous Illinois fires. The museum is slated to acquire more examples of antique firefighting, in addition to the 1938 Diamond T and 1948 Ford fire trucks that have been displayed there for decades. When the state fair isn’t on, parking is plentiful.
Illinois Fire Museum, Building 7, Illinois State Fairgrounds, Central at Main, 217-785-7487, www.state.il.us/osfm/ Museum/FireMuseum.htm. Open by appointment only, Mon.-Fri. Call 217-785-7487. Admission is free.

Located on the grounds of Camp Lincoln — headquarters of the Illinois National Guard — the Illinois State Military Museum is dedicated to the state’s military heritage, from pre-statehood days to today. While you’re there, take a close look at the target board used by Abe Lincoln in 1863 to test-fire the new Spencer rifle. Also displayed is the artificial leg worn by Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana of Alamo infamy. Displayed outside are restored Vietnam War era AH-1 Cobra and UH-1 “Huey” helicopters and an M60A-3 tank.
Illinois State Military Museum, Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd., 217-761-3910, www.il.ngb.army.mil/museum. Open 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat. Admission is free. Donations are welcome.

Changes: Dynamic Illinois Environments, compressing 500 million years of transformation into an exciting natural-history exhibition that you can explore in an afternoon, has amazed and delighted visitors of all ages since its unveiling in 2005. Hands-on activities, thousands of fossils, and life-size dioramas are complemented by audio and video effects. Don’t miss the giant sloth, the giant sharks, the giant dragonflies, and the giant beaver. Children will enjoy “A Place for Discovery,” a hands-on gallery where they can touch animal skins, listen to bird calls, assemble puzzles, and explore life through a microscope. Don’t miss the Super Saturday events, planned for children ages 4-8 years old. How long has it been since you’ve savored a really interesting paperweight collection? Springfield’s own Morton D. Barker collected a heapin’ helpin’ of them over 20 years, and a part of that collection is now on display.
Gifted Quilts: A Selection from the Illinois State Museum Collection continues through July 22. The second-floor art gallery exhibition includes 28, dating back to 1830. An ongoing exhibit showcases the birds of Illinois. A gift shop offers educational toys, books, and handcrafted items made by Illinois artisans. Illinois State Museum, Spring and Edward streets, 217-782-7387, www.museum.state.il.us/. Open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. Admission is free.

Funeral customs dating back to ancient Egypt are featured in this most unusual museum, which combines historical artifacts with videos and guided tours. In addition to changing shows, the museum has permanent exhibits on embalming and preparation, the establishment of the funeral profession, funeral rites, and mourning. Some rooms replicate historic vignettes, such as a 1870s-era home funeral service and a 1920s preparation room. A new exhibit, The Last Salute, shares American military-funeral customs and traditions in photographs, descriptive text, and artifacts. Also planned is a multimedia exhibit on the Lincoln funeral, which traces the ceremonies after the president’s assassination. Not a drab experience in any way, the museum illuminates an often-hidden part of many cultures and hosts a variety of events throughout the year.
For the first time, the museum is introducing summer hours to accommodate flag-lowering ceremonies at the Lincoln Tomb, in nearby Oak Ridge Cemetery. Starting May 1 and continuing through Aug. 31, the museum will be open until 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. Museum of Funeral Customs, 1440 Monument Ave., 217-544-3480, www.funeralmuseum.org. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 1-4 p.m. Sun. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for children ages 6-17, and free for children under 6.
Located in the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, this teaching museum covers various aspects of healing, including pharmaceutical, surgical, dental, and alternative medicine. Treatments through the centuries come to life in permanent and changing exhibits. Named for long-practicing Springfield physician Emmett Pearson, the museum features a dental exhibit, a complete homeopathic dispensary, and an entire 1900 drugstore from Canton, Ill., with its many apothecary jars and vials. School groups and practicing physicians often visit the museum to hear lectures. Pearson Museum, 801 N. Rutledge St., 217-545-4261, www.siumed.edu/medhum/ pearson. Open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tue. Group tours by appointment. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

When Bill Shea returned home from World War II, he started working at his neighborhood filling station. When the owner died, Shea bought the station and relocated it 850 feet north, where he continued to sell gasoline until 1982. The Gas Station Museum is the result of Shea’s not throwing much away during those 60 years. Located on a part of City Route 66, the collection consists of thousands of oil cans, fuel pumps, a 1952 Airstream travel trailer and a restored 1984 Ward school bus, a museum in its own right. In 2000 Shea moved another station office from Middletown, Ill., and restored it to its 1920s splendor. Newly acquired, perhaps in anticipation of a visit from Clark Kent, are two old-time wooden telephone booths. Shea’s museum is a popular site on the national Route 66 tour.
Shea’s Gas Station Museum, 2075 Peoria Rd., 217-522-0475. Open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 8 a.m.-noon Sat. Closed during the Illinois State Fair. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for those 12 and younger.

Items that were common to Midwest frontier settlers fascinate visitors to Under the Prairie, a museum operated by the Sangamo Archaeological Center. Household items dating back to the 1700s that have been unearthed by archaeologists make up one of the largest collections of frontier-period pre-Civil War artifacts in the Midwest. Under the Prairie Frontier Archaeological Museum, 107 Oglesby St. in Elkhart, 10 minutes north of Springfield, 217-947-2522, www.undertheprairie.com. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed.-Sun. Admission is $3 but free for those 6 and younger.
VACHEL LINDSAY HOME STATE HISTORIC SITE “Prairie troubadour” Vachel Lindsay captured the attention of audiences around the world during early 1900s. He was born on Nov. 10, 1879, and died on Dec. 5, 1931, and both events took place in the Lindsay family home, located at 603 S. Fifth St., across the street from the Illinois Executive (Governor’s) Mansion. Lindsay’s father, Thomas, was a physician; his mother, Catherine, was an artist and social reformer. Lindsay was to follow in his father’s footsteps, and after high school he attended Hiram College in Ohio, to study medicine, but he eventually dropped out to attend art schools in Chicago and New York City. In the early 20th century, Lindsay set out on a series of tramps across America. At the conclusion of one of these trips, his poem “General William Booth Enters into Heaven,” a eulogy to the founder of the Salvation Army, was published in Chicago’s Poetry magazine. The poem brought him national attention, and subsequent works garnered international acclaim. Some of his best-known poems include “The Congo” and “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight.”
Lindsay’s family home, now a state historic site, has been restored to depict life in 1917, when Lindsay’s parents still played an active role in community life. Examples of Lindsay’s poetry and art, not a part of the house at that time, have been added to showcase the poet. Regular events at the site include the Saturday-Morning Lecture series, which focuses on Springfield during the Lindsays’ prime and second Saturday Poetry in the Parlor, featuring invited guests sharing poetry and observations about the famous poet. Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site, 603 S. Fifth St., 217-524-0901. Open noon-4 p.m. Tue.-Sat. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
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