Vandalia Mayor Rick Gottman announced late Wednesday afternoon that the state has accepted an anonymous donation from a local resident and will reopen the Vandalia Statehouse.
The donation to the Illinois Historic Preservation, which is being channeled through the Old Capitol Foundation, will pay the salary of a full-time employee at the Statehouse.
The IHPA issued the following press release on Wednesday afternoon:
VANDALIA – A one-time anonymous donation will allow the Vandalia Storehouse State Historic Site to open to the public five days per week through the end of June 2009, in time for the site to welcome visitors for the February 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial.
The site was among 11 across Illinois that closed December 1 as a result of a $2.8-million budget reduction sustained by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), which administers Illinois’ historic sites.
"The community of Vandalia is extremely grateful to the anonymous donor who has made it possible to reopen me Statehouse," said Vandalia Mayor Ricky Gottman. "I want to personally thank IHPA Director Jan Grimes, with whom we worked diligently to make this happen."
The amount of the donation to the Old Capitol Foundation, the private support group for Vandalia Statehouse, has not been disclosed. It will be used to make monthly payments to the State of Illinois for personnel and operations costs at Vandalia Statehouse.
The site will reopen once the proper state procedures arc followed for hiring an additional person that will allow for public programming. One staff person at the site was laid off when Vandalia Statehouse closed December 1, and one staff person was kept to maintain the site and provide security while it was closed.
"Vandala has shown true community spirit, taking a financial lemon and making lemonade. I commend Mayor Gottman and the Old Capitol Foundation for everything they have done to make this possible," said IHPA Director Jan Grimes.
The Vandalia Statebouse is the oldest existing capitol building in Illinois. It was built in 1836 and Abraham Lincoln was among the state legislators who served there. Once the site reopens, it will be available for free public tours Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.