Statehouse schedule changed

At least in recent times, Tuesday has been a day when a number of school or tour groups wanted to visit the Vandalia Statehouse. Unfortunately, Tuesday is one of two days that the Statehouse has been closed.

That will change this Saturday, when a new schedule for the Statehouse goes into effect.

Jennifer Tirey, acting director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which administers the Statehouse, announced on Monday that the old state capitol will now be open Tuesday through Saturday.

Under the old schedule, the Statehouse was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

We are making this change following a request by Vandalia Mayor Rick Gottman and local tourism officials, who indicated that school groups and bus tours would be better served with this new schedule, Tirey said.

Statehouse Superintendent Mary Cole said she believes the schedule change will allow for better use of the Statehouse, particularly for local youngsters.

Cole said she supports the use of the old capitol as part of local school childrens education about the early days of Illinois and Vandalia.

In recent years, Cole said, she has had to turn away a number of school and tour groups who wanted to go through the Statehouse.

Also, she said, the new schedule coordinates with that of the Fayette County Museum, which is closed on Sundays.

The Statehouse, along with most other state historic sites, is open only five days a week due to a lack of state funding.

The exception for Sunday closures, of course, is Fathers Day weekend, when the Statehouse hosts the Grande Leve.

This year, the Statehouse will celebrate the 40th anniversary for the Grande Leve, a three-day event that features period crafts, music and food.

In the past couple of years, the old capitol was allowed to stay open seven days a week during summer months when Gov. Rod Blagojevich approved supplemental funds for the IHPA.

Thus far, Blagojevich has not given any indication of approving additional funds for this year.

The Vandalia Statehouse was built in 1836, constructed by local residents as they attempted to stave off the plan of state legislators including Abraham Lincoln to move the capital to Springfield.

Lincoln, Douglas and many other famous individuals in the states years of infancy served in the Statehouse, and it was in the buildings Supreme Court Room that Lincoln became legally entitled to practice law.

It was also in the Statehouse that Lincoln first voiced his opposition to slavery.

The Statehouse was the third building in Illinois to serve as the state capitol in Vandalia.

The first capital, located at the northwest corner of Fifth and Johnson streets, was destroyed by fire. The second capital, which was located across the street from the Statehouse in the 100 block of South Fourth Street, was in deteriorating conditions while being used by the state.

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