Some new touches have been added to the Old Lincoln Courtroom and Museum in Beardstown.
Five monitors have been installed to provide a video tour of the courtroom and museum. The tours are done in English and, because of the town’s sizeable Latino population, Spanish.
“A lot of the children are now bilingual and can speak English, but their parents can’t. So now they can come to the museum with their children and push the Hispanic narration and know exactly what they’re seeing,” said Connie Foley, who oversaw the fundraising campaign for the project.
She said they’re making plans to add a third language because of the increasing number of French-speaking people moving into the community.
All of the money for the project was raised locally. It included a “Penny for Lincoln” campaign in the public and private schools.
The courtroom is renowned because it’s where Abraham Lincoln won the “Almanac Trial” in 1858. The courtroom is still used occasionally today, and it’s the only remaining active courtroom in which Lincoln practiced law.
Foley said the idea for the video tours came from a trip she made with her husband to Biloxi, MI. She said the town’s museum and visitors’ center, along with many artifacts, had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. So when the facility was rebuilt, monitors were installed to give visitors a video tour of the town’s history and to show artifacts.
“And I thought, ‘What a great idea. We should do something like that here.’ And that’s how it started,” said Foley.
Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon was among those who attended the rededication ceremony for the Old Lincoln Courtroom and Museum. Simon is a former prosecutor, and said the “Almanac Trial” is almost legendary among attorneys.
Simon hoped the museum and courtroom will inspire children to get involved in politics and their communities.