IHPA legacy Interviews
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IHPA legacy Interviews
Jennie Battles began her working career as an English teacher at Dixon High School. When the family moved to Petersburg, Illinois in 1977, she worked for several years at Famous Barr in Springfield. In 1986 she joined the staff of the newly organized Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, starting as an interpreter at the Old State Capitol. She talks extensively about the Portrait of a Prairie Capitol theatrical production and the Living History Program, both at the Old State Capitol. In 2001 Jennie became the site manager for the Vachel Lindsay home in Springfield. and became synonymous with the historic home of Springfield's most renowned poet until her retirement in 2014.
Dr. Erin Bishop was head of Education Services with the IHPA at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from 2005 to 2009. She earned her bachelor's degree in history and French from Carroll College in Montana, then went on to work with the Lincoln Legal Papers from 1990 to 1993. After studying in Ireland and completing her master's degree and PhD, she returned to Springfield and accepted a position with the IHPA as a historic research specialist in 1997. Following the creation of the Presidential Library and Museum, she became head of the Education Division and was in charge of developing programs, exhibits, and resources for teachers and students.
David Blanchette is the Public Informations Officer/Communications Manager for the IHPA and Presidential Library. He received his B.A. in Journalism from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL, in 1982, then went on to work for WJIL-WJVO Radio in Jacksonville until 1987. In 1987, he became Public Information Officer for the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, and in 1989 became P.I.O. for the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency.
For two and a half decades, from 1989 to 2013, David Blanchette served as the Public Information Officer for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and later the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. He served in that capacity during IHPA's infancy, and during the conceptualization, design, construction and opening of ALPLM, a world-class museum and library. Dave discusses these topics in detail, as well as the management turmoil that the department experienced in the years following its opening.
Julie Cellini was appointed to serve as the the Chair of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency by Governor Jim Thompson, and served as its chair from its creation in 1985 to 2012. During that time, she was the driving force behind the creation of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and was involved in every aspect of its development. The Library opened in 2004, and the Museum opened in 2005 to world-wide acclaim. IHPA oversaw some 50 historic sites throughout Illinois.
Julie Cellini became the first chair of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in 1985, and for the next twenty years spent much of her time and energy working toward creating a new facility to display the Illinois State Historical Library's extensive Lincoln Collection. By the mid 1990s she was joined by Agency Director Susan Mogerman, Sites Division Director Bob Coomer, and many others as they continued to work toward achieving their dream. In this panel discussion, the three 'creators' talk about the many ups and downs they experienced as they moved toward achieving that dream, resulting in the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in 2005.
Bob Coomer served as Director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency from 2004 until his retirement in 2007. Prior to holding this position, he had a long career in recreational and historic administration. He served as assistant bureau chief of the Illinois Department of Conservation from 1978 to 1985. Following the creation of the IHPA in 1985, he was transferred over to the new agency as Superintendent of Historic Sites and was responsible for setting up and overseeing the state's historic sites. In 2005, he became Agency Director, and helped to oversee the creation of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (among many other duties).
Dr. George Cullom Davis began his academic career as an assistant professor of history at Indiana University in 1964. In 1970, he moved to Springfield, IL, where he taught and served as an assistant to the president of the newly formed Sangamon State University, and was also responsible for establishing the university's Oral History office. He quickly developed a national reputation in the oral history community, and served as president of the Oral History Association from 1983-1984. In 1988 Dr. Davis became Director of the Lincoln Legal Papers, where he served until his retirement in 2000.
Dr. Michael Devine became the Director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) in 1985, shortly after Governor Jim Thompson first created the agency. He presided over a large number of historic sites throughout the state, as well as the Illinois State Historical Library and other directorates. During his tenure, improvements were made for programs to the Old State Capitol, the Dana Thomas House was opened to much fanfare, and the Pullman factory site was purchased. He left Illinois in 1991 when he was selected to be the Director of the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming.
Julie Dirksen was the first Director of Guest Services for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Hired in 2004 prior to the ALPLM's opening, she helped to prepare the Springfield community for the museum's opening through the "Company is Coming" organization. She was also responsible for establishing the ALPLM's volunteer support and setting up training for the Museum staff and volunteers.
Martha Downey began working at the Bishop Hill Historic Site, a village in west-central Illinois founded in 1846 by Swedish immigrants affiliated with the Pietist movement led by Erik Jansson, in 1981. At that time the site was managed by the Department of Natural Resources, but it went under the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in 1985 when that agency was created. During Downey's long tenure at Bishop Hill, the site has undergone dramatic improvements.
Darrell Duensing's first job after graduating from Southern University in 1971 was as site manager at Fort de Chartres, the former French fortress in Randolph County that boasts the oldest building in Illinois. He spent the next forty-five years there, retiring in 2015. His tenure spans the years when the site was managed by the Illinois Department of Conservation, and since 1985 by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. He also discusses the Great Flood of 1993 in detail.
Travis Gillum and Lara McGlaughlin of LifeFormations discuss the art and meticulous techniques that go into the creation of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library's many historical figures. During a presentation at the Presidential Museum's Union Theater, the two demonstrated how they transform clay, silicon and other materials into incredibly life-like figures, and the challenges of bringing such well known figures as Abraham and Mary Lincoln to life, from conceptual drawings to period accurate costumes. The presentation was made during the Museum's "Evening with the Creators" series to celebrate the institution's 10th anniversary.
Kathryn Harris worked in the Illinois State Historical Library from 1984 until her retirement in 2015. When she started, the library was located underneath the Old State Capitol. In 1996 she became the director of the Library. Over the next twenty years she helped guide the library through the design and opening of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in 2004, where she served as the Library Services Director. She discusses the triumph of the new Presidential Museum, which opened in 2005, and staff challenges in the decade following the Library's opening.
David Hedrick had a long and distinguished career with working at nature and historic sites. These included the Norridge Park District, Jubilee College State Historic Site, and in 1979 the historic Lincoln's New Salem where he took over as Site Superintendent. At that time, David worked in the Department of Natural Resources, but a new agency, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, was established in 1985. Hedrick's excellent management skills led to New Salem becoming one of the premier Lincoln sites in the country.
Earl (Wally) Henderson is an architect who has worked on a variety of historical preservation and restoration projects in the Springfield, IL area. One of the biggest projects of his career was the restoration of the Old State Capitol. Henderson's architecture firm helped restore and expand the Old State Capitol to include an underground parking lot and facility for the State Historical Library. In addition to his extensive work with the Old State Capitol, Henderson also helped with the restoration of the Abe Lincoln home in Springfield.
After receiving both his BA and MA in History from Northern Illinois University, Theodore (Ted) Hild was hired as an employee for the Historic Sites division of the Illinois Department of Conservation in 1972. In 1985, Hild's division was merged with the Illinois State Historical Library to form the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency. He eventually became Acting Division Manager of the IHPA's Preservation Division, a role which he held until his retirement in 2007.
Bill Iseminger, an anthropologist, began his career at Cahokia Mounds in 1971 when the site was in serious disrepair, encroached upon by several developments, including a housing area and drive in theater. Over the next forty-six years he helped manage the site's transformation into a world class archaeological site, becoming one of UNESCO's World Heritage Site in 1982. In 1989, a world class museum was added to the site, and Cahokia Mounds is now the site for archaeological digs and research.
David Kneupper was commissioned by Bob Rogers of BRC Imagination Arts to compose over three hours of music for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum's many exhibits and two theaters. David discusses the demanding expectations that Rogers had for the musical score, and goes into considerable detail in discussing his creative process. The project has proven to be perhaps David's most challenging and rewarding experience. Due to his score and the museum's innovative and engaging exhibits, the project was awarded the prestigious THEA Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Susan Mogerman served as Executive Director for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) from 1991 through 2002, during the crucial years when the planning, design and construction of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) took place. These were also busy years for IHPA in general. Susan had scores of sites in her agency, and was also responsible for the IL State Historical Library and historic preservation efforts throughout Illinois. In 2004 she began working as the Chief Operations Officer for the ALPL Foundation, and saw her efforts to create the Presidential Library and Museum come to fruition.
Four key members of the BRC Imagination Arts creative team, Tisa Poe, Patrick Weeks, Heather Oxley and Tom Tait joined moderator Mark DePue in 2015 to discuss their key roles in the design, creation and installation of the many exhibits and two theater productions for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, which opened on April 19, 2005 to wide acclaim. They shared their stories and insights about the creation of the museum, even as they marveled at how well the museum's exhibits have stood up over the intervening ten years.
Bob Rogers formed his own exhibit design company, BRC Imagination Arts in 1981. In 1998 his firm won the contract to develop the exhibits for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Bob's mission was to create a museum that would inspire visitors “with a greater attraction to and fascination with the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.” Over the next several years, he and his firm collaborated closely with the staff of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and created a revolutionary new type of presidential museum. The museum opened in 2005 to wide acclaim, wowing the public while also receiving accolades from scholars and educators. By all accounts, the museum has achieved that goal.
Richard Schachtsiek is a former IHPA site interpreter and administrator. His career in historic preservation began in 1975, when he was hired as a site interpreter at New Salem, IL. Two years later, he became site manager at the Bryant Cottage State Historic Site; after receiving his MA in Small Museum Administration from Eastern Illinois University, he became a site interpreter at Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield. Eventually he was promoted to site administrator for the Postville and Mt. Pulaski Court Houses state historic site, where he worked until his retirement in 2002.
Kay Smith served with the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition as a contractor and then as the Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area from late 2009 through 2011. The interview focuses on Smith’s role in developing the comprehensive management plan for the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. She also talks about several other projects and programs that were occurring while she served as executive director
Robert (Bob) Weichert is the Division Manager of Administrative Services for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. He was first hired by the IHPA in 1988 as General Services Manager, a position that encompassed the roles of Affirmative Action Officer, Telecommunications Coordinator, and Travel Coordinator. In 1989 he was promoted to Division Manager of Administrative Services. As manager of this division, he is responsible for overseeing Fiscal, Personnel, General, and Physical Services for the Agency. He also served as the IHPA's Legislative Liaison from 1991 to 2003.
Marcia Young became the site manager for the David Davis State Historic Site in Bloomington, Illinois in 1990, while it was in the midst of a five-year $2.5 million restoration. The site consists of the historic Victorian style mansion and grounds of Judge David Davis, a close friend and confidant of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln appointed Judge Davis to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1862, and he served there until becoming a U.S. Senator from 1877 to 1883. Marcia talks at length about her career with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and about the art, architecture, and history of the David Davis mansion and grounds. She retired as site manager in 2014.