Illinois Courthouse Grants Deadline Nears

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

        The application deadline for the 2011-2012 Richard H. Driehaus County Courthouse Grant applications is September 1, 2011. Courthouses—or former courthouses—listed or “eligible for listing” on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible to apply for funding.

        This is the third year of the statewide County Courthouse Program, which is a four-year, $1 million effort funded by philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus.  Eligible projects include the restoration of significant exterior courthouse features, including clocks, bell towers, cupolas, and distinctive ornament, as well as new, cutting-edge exterior lighting technologies.

“Courthouses are among the most impressive—and highly visible—buildings in Illinois,” notes Jim Peters, president of Landmarks Illinois, a statewide nonprofit organization. “But many of the most important features of these buildings have been lost over time. Our hope is that these grants will be a catalyst to other long-term restoration projects.”

        Completed projects that have utilized County Courthouse matching grants are:

Edgar County, in east-central Illinois, received $82,000 in matching grants to remove, restore, and reinstall the “Lady Justice” statue atop the dome of its county courthouse in Paris.  The grants also helped to repair significant structural damage to the tower and repainting of the sheet metal clad tower to match the color of the sandstone building. The Romanesque Revival-style building, which was designed by architect Henry Elliott, was dedicated in 1893. The entire project was completed in spring 2011.

Henry County, in northwestern Illinois, received a $50,000 matching grant to repair and restore the distinctive clock and clock tower on its Second Empire-style courthouse, which was built in 1880. The courthouse, which is located in Cambridge, is a prominent symbol for the surrounding area.  The bell, which rings throughout the area today, had not been heard for decades.

Grant-funded projects that are still underway include:

Morgan County, in southwestern Illinois, has received a $25,000 grant to fund an energy-efficient, exterior lighting plan for its Second Empire-style courthouse dating to 1869. The courthouse, which is located in Jacksonville, was designed by architect G. B. Randal. It is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar exterior renovation.

Coles County, in southeastern Illinois, received a matching grant for $20,000 to help repair the bell and clock of this Richardsonian Romanesque-style courthouse by Cornelius W. Rapp, built in1898. Additional funding has been approved to assist with the creation of an exterior lighting plan of the courthouse.

Effingham County, in southeastern Illinois, has been pledged $70,000 to the Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association, if museum advocates can raise $70,000 in matching funds. The City of Effingham has also pledged $50,000 if the Association can raise a total of $170,000 by the end of the year.  The grant will be used to reconstruct the cupola to match the original plans.  The building which was vacated by the county offices in 2007 will be used as a history museum.   

Logan County, in central Illinois, has been awarded a matching grant to help restore the bell, bell stand, and clock faces for this 1903-05 Classical Revival-style Courthouse by architect JM Deal. Additional structural work is needed to repair the deteriorated bell-stand, so that the bell can be restored and ring once again. The building, located in Lincoln, continues to serve Logan County as its Courthouse.

Program guidelines and application forms can be found at  Winning projects are to be completed and will receive funding in calendar year 2012.