Work has begun on an ambitious plan to transform a parking lot into a plaza which will showcase Springfield’s history and ties to Abraham Lincoln.
Bicentennial Plaza – A REALTOR® Community Partnership is a $2 million investment in the city’s downtown which will help realize a long-held vision of a pedestrian walkway linking the Abraham Lincoln Home Historic Site with the Illinois Executive Mansion and state Capitol. The plaza is being built on land owned by Illinois REALTORS®.
“Illinois REALTORS® wanted to do something significant to celebrate the state that has provided so much to our members and those who rely on them,” said the association’s 2018 president, Matt Difanis. “Since our headquarters is located in the heart of Springfield’s historic district, our members felt it was important to play a supporting role in the bicentennial celebration.”
Bicentennial Plaza is being built in part with $1 million provided by the city of Springfield. In addition to donating use of its land, Illinois REALTORS® and other private partners are providing the balance of the funds necessary to complete the project.
Lincoln’s vision reflected in design
Bicentennial Plaza is dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln’s vision for America as a country with opportunity and equality for all. Located between Fifth and Sixth streets, just north of Illinois REALTORS®’ headquarters, the area around Bicentennial Plaza has sites linked to Abraham Lincoln, who historians say would have often used the Jackson Street Corridor while he lived in Springfield.
The plaza will have more than a dozen interpretive panels showcasing the people who lived and worked in Springfield and who advanced his vision. Also included will be a marker commemorating the federal Fair Housing Act which guaranteed housing opportunity for all. Learn how you can be apart of this history by adding your name to the plaza’s walkway.
The Illinois Bicentennial Commission identified Bicentennial Plaza as a “Signature Project” of the yearlong celebration.
All 29 local REALTOR® associations in Illinois are working on bicentennial legacy projects in their local communities. The effort is yet another way Illinois REALTORS® work with heart in local communities.
- Belvidere Board of REALTORS®: Partner with the Boone County Arts Council with fundraising support for a new mural featuring architect Jeanne Gang as well as home-related “Teacher’s Trunk” resource for the Boone County Museum of History.
- Bloomington-Normal Association of REALTORS®: Fundraising for the Lincoln Era Barn Window Restoration project at the David Davis Mansion in Normal.
- Capital Area REALTORS®: Fundraising for improvements, including refurbishing the staircase to the second floor of the Edwards Place Historic Home in Springfield.
- Central Illinois Board of REALTORS®: Partnering with the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site to help install a map depicting Abraham Lincoln and his family’s migration from Indiana to Illinois in 1830 as well as working with Decatur Central Park to provide a historical timeline of the Decatur Municipal Band.
- Champaign County Association of REALTORS®: Funding a free admission day at the Orpheum Chilren’s Science Museum in Champaign.
- Chicago Association of REALTORS®: Volunteerism and fundraising to help transform a section of the Peterson Garden’s Global Garden into a 2018 Bicentennial victory garden.
- Danville Area Board of REALTORS®: Sponsorship of the City of Danville’s Lincoln Belief Mural.
- Egyptian Board of REALTORS®: Funding for storyboards that tell the history of the Bald Knob Cross of Peace.
- Greater Gateway Association of REALTORS®: Partnered with City of Alton and Haskell Playhouse Association to convert the historic home into a children’s museum.
- Heartland REALTOR® Organization: Partnering with several historic sites to promote events and drive traffic to these local historic treasures: the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum, Petersen Farm and the Colonel Palmer House.
- HomeTown Association of REALTORS®: Fundraising to repair the air conditioning for the Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb; fundraising for a new roof for the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon.
- Illini Valley Association of REALTORS®: Sponsorship of historic wall murals for buildings in downtown Streator as part of the community’s Sesquicentennial celebrations.
- Illinois REALTORS®: Build the Bicentennial Plaza — A REALTOR® Community Partnership; donated more than $50,000 to the Executive Mansion renovation project in Springfield.
- Kankakee-Iroquois-Ford Association of REALTORS®: Fundraising support to add landscaping to the rain garden area of the B. Harley Bradley House in Kankakee, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home built in 1901.
- Livingston County Board of REALTORS®: Fundraising and volunteer help to restore historic landscaping to the Jason Strevell home in Pontiac.
- Logan County Board of REALTORS®: Partnership with the City of Lincoln to install historical signage explaining the Lincoln Chautauqua in Memorial Park.
- Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®: Funding to install LED lighting in the DuPage County Historical Museum; fundraising to help preserve real estate records for the Arlington Heights Historical Museum, funding for the development of a new website for South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society, and funding of the installation of UV-protective windows at Waukegan Historical Society.
- Mid Valley Association of REALTORS®: Fundraising support for the preservation of the historic Little Family Cabin in Kewanee, one of the area’s oldest homes.
- North Shore-Barrington Association of REALTORS®: Work with the Northbrook Historical Society to fundraise for the restoration of the Hope Union Church and provide support through funding and volunteer projects to Barrington History Museum.
- Northern Illinois Commercial Association of REALTORS®: Assisting the City of Aurora, the Aurora Area Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and the Aurora Historical Society in expansion of the annual Home Ownership Expo in the spring of 2018 including funding of new elements to the expo such as a historical building trolley tour.
- Oak Park Area Association of REALTORS®: Support for restoration of the Frederick C. Robie House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1910.
- Peoria Area Association of REALTORS®: Grounds improvement to the Pettengill-Morron House which was built in 1868; restoration work for the LeTourneau home, an all-steel dwelling built after World War I.
- Quad City Area Association of REALTORS®: Fundraising for paint and tools for a new mural at the Blackhawk State Historic Site.
- Quincy Association of REALTORS®: Provide a free admission day at Quincy Museum Kids Summer Tour during the summer of 2018 for children ages 3 to 18.
- REALTOR® Association of the Fox Valley: Partnership with Garfield Farm to assist in the maintenance and create awareness for the historic site, an 1840s era living history farm.
- REALTOR® Association of Northwestern Illinois: Supporting the Galena Foundation by purchasing a lifetime membership to the organization and being involved in fundraising events.
- REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois: Host an open house at an annual home dedication for a home dedicated to St. Clair County by the St. Clair County Historical Society.
- Rockford Area Association of REALTORS®: “Discover the Heart of Your Community” is the theme for promoting local tourist attractions in Winnebago, Ogle and Boone counties during the summer of 2018. Fundraising will support entry fees.
- Three Rivers Association of REALTORS®: Partnership with local historical societies to provide scanning equipment to help preserve historical documents and photographs for historical societies in Will and Grundy counties including the Will County Historical Society.
REALTORS® committed to preserving historic properties
Two years ago the association created the Bicentennial Task Force which is chaired by Dixon REALTOR® Vicky Turner. She said REALTORS® throughout the state were eager to play a role in the celebration.
“Our members could think of no better way to recognize the people, places and events of the past than by supporting the state’s historic properties in 2018,” Turner said. “More than 30 projects are planned in 2018 by our members, ranging in scope from funding structural improvements to cleanup days.”