November 6, 2017

Historical Society making honest effort to place Lincoln portrait everywhere


The Illinois State Historical Society wants to put an iconic portrait of Abraham Lincoln in every courthouse in the state for the upcoming Illinois Bicentennial celebration and is looking for sponsors to help make it happen.

William Furry, executive director of the society, said the portrait gives a glimpse at who Lincoln was prior to his presidency, when he served as a trial lawyer and judge in Illinois.

The portrait is 30 by 40 inches inside a frame and costs $500, according to Furry.

"We’ve asked people around the state who care about this picture of Lincoln to step forward and donate or be a patron for having these portraits hung," Furry said. "We’ve sold 25 of them. We’d like to get them done as quickly as we can."

Furry said multiple donors can sponsor one portrait.

"I would encourage them to talk to their local historical society," he said. "To talk to someone in the community who would like to see this portrait in the courthouse and step forward and say they’d like to contribute toward it."

The portrait will cost $600 after the first of the year, according to Furry.

Furry said the portraits will be displayed in judges' chambers, courtrooms and justice center hallways because they epitomize what Lincoln was known for: humanity, compassion and honesty.

"Especially with the bicentennial year, we’d like to have this image of Lincoln as he lived in Illinois to be seen by people from the state, from around the country, and people from around the world," Furry said.

The society has also delivered 120 Johnny Appleseed Bicentennial Trees to counties and historical societies across the state.

The trees were grown from an original piece of wood from the Johnny Appleseed tree in Ohio.

Appleseed planted trees in Illinois in the 1820s, so this tree coming back to Illinois is significant, according to Furry.

"Bicentennial trees and bicentennial portraits of Abraham Lincoln, and we’re just beginning our celebration," Furry said. "We’re hoping these trees will be around 200 years from now because the one that we grafted it from is 200 years old."

The state’s bicentennial year begins Dec. 3.

The historical society was founded in 1899. It publishes two publications, the Illinois Heritage and the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Thepublications exist because people care about the state and its history, Furry said.