Why Illinois Is Cutting Hours At Some Historic Sites, And Sparing Others

Aug 4, 2014

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.

But about a dozen other historic sites have been spared.

Wills says determinations were made based on staffing levels.

"Popularity really did not enter into it, except that we are making these reduced hours effective after the height of the summer travel season," he says. "We wanted to avoid interfering with family travel plans as much as possible."

The Ulysses S. Grant Home in Galena, Fort Kaskaskia, the Black Hawk site in Rock Island and Mount Pulaski Courthouse are among those unaffected.

Wills says the agency may need to take more severe actions -- such as shutting down sites completely -- early next year. But he's hopeful lawmakers will instead come through with additional funding.