When the National Park Service in 1971 took over the blocks of Eighth and Jackson streets around the Lincoln home, it ruthlessly cleared them of any structures that had not been standing when the Lincolns lived there. The resulting grassy lots surrounded by wood fencing look like pastures or paddocks that suggest a country village more than the industrializing state capital that Lincoln knew.The continuing failure of the NPS to realize the original vision for the Lincoln Home National Historic Site reconstructing the missing period structures owes to lack of money and lack of documentation about the appearance of the vanished originals.
In a 1990 column ("Ghost houses," Nov. 21, 1990, not available online) I tried to helpful.
Strict authenticity being apparently impossible, why not opt for history of a more imaginative type? Why not borrow a page from an award-winning design done by the architectural firm Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown at Philadelphia's Franklin Court, part of the Park Service's Independence National Historical Park? Ben Franklin's long vanished house was not rebuilt. Instead, its presence on the site is suggested by a timber frame of the structure that outlines the walls and roof line, even the chimneys of the original. It is a sketch in wood whose insubstantiality is a tease. It conveys a sense of bulk without having any,
Thanks to the art blog Colossal, I discovered the other day that an Italian artist has done the ghost houses of Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown one better. Edoardo Tresoldi built a representation of the early Christian church that once stood at what is today the Archaeological Park of Siponto, Italy, using wire mesh. With the help of experts at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and local archaeologists, Tresoldi’s creation recalls detailed architectural elements including tiered columns, domes, and statues that stand within the structure.
© Blind Eye Factory
Says Colossal, "The sculpture stands on the former church’s site with a ghostly presence, looking almost like a hologram illuminated in the park."