By NICK MARIANO
MT. VERNON —
Tommy Hogshead, a lifelong resident of Jefferson County, said it was hard to talk about his first visit Thursday to the 5th District Appellate Court building in Mt. Vernon.
Despite “coming by this beautiful building all my life,” the 69-year-old Mt. Vernon man took his first steps inside the landmark building as part of a tour organized by the Downtown Mt. Vernon Development Corporation.
He joined about 30 others to learn about the history of the 155-year-old building, from the $6,000 appropriation to build it initially as a venue for the Illinois Supreme Court to one of the few trials ever held there when Abraham Lincoln helped the Illinois Central Railroad stay in business.
“It’s great to be here. It’s hard,” Hogshead said, fighting back tears. When asked why, he said: “Just Abraham Lincoln and the stories of his life. It’s just a great experience.”
Hogshead’s wife, Betty, joined him on the tour and shared his enthusiasm, particularly the information on the railroad case. Her father used to work for the company.
Carol McCulley, also of Mt. Vernon, said she was just a “resident” who could not pass up the chance to tour the courthouse. Like Hogshead, she was making her first visit inside it.
“I’ve always admired this building and the history that is behind it, and I wanted to see it. ... I would have jump on this in a heartbeat,” she said of the tour.
The tour marked the second of three Downtown Lowdown meetings being held by the Development Corporation this year. The purpose of the meetings is to provide updates on current or future development projects in Mt. Vernon’s downtown and to also explore the area’s past.
The tour was given by 5th District Appellate Court Clerk Jack Flood.