MT. VERNON — —
The city’s history has been in the news in recent days nearly as much as has its current events — for good reason, one city promoter said Wednesday.
Just in the last week there’s been a story on looking back at the car shops of Mt. Vernon and another featuring a photo and story contest of the city’s older pools — in connection with today’s groundbreaking on a new aquatic center.
It is that history, whether it’s architecture or events or people, that gives a city its identity and sets it apart from others, said Cyndy Mitchell, executive director of the Downtown Mt. Vernon Development Corporation.
Though an organization focused on promoting new development, Mitchell said the DMVDC is resolute in its position to restore and preserve the area’s history as changes occur.
“People should take pride in that history,” Mitchell said. “We have been learning through our branding that your downtown is an important part of the viability of a community, especially smaller communities. We need to restore and preserve it.”
On Nov. 1, history will once again take center stage in the DMVDC’s next Downtown Lowdown series with a tour of the 155-year-old appellate courthouse at 14th and Main streets.
This is the second Downtown Lowdown to be held in the three-part series this year. It’s also in its second year, started to provide updates on current or future development plans in the area as well as other news and information including the area’s history.
Not new to the building, Mitchell said she is looking forward to learning more about its history including when Abraham Lincoln was there. Lincoln conducted a trial at the courthouse in 1859, according to 5th District Appellate Court Clerk and tour guide Jack Flood.
Other tour highlights, according to Flood, are:
- Judges’ chambers;
- Clerk’s office;
- Portions of living quarters;
- The security room;
- The research department and the 8,000-foot annex added to the back of the courthouse in 2004; and
- Documents on the first case at the courthouse in 1878 and other artifacts, and the 1831 edition of “Breese’s Reports,” the first book published in Illinois.
The tour runs from 9 to 10 a.m. and is free to the public. Those interested should enter the building through the east (front) entrance located under the outdoor staircase of the courthouse between 8:45 and 8:50 a.m.