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Original Lincoln Home Cottage to be Reconstructed
11-03-2021, 10:22 AM
Post: #31
RE: Original Lincoln Home Cottage to be Reconstructed
Thank you for another thorough and sorry for my late reply, Norman - I skimmed your links and will check them out more in-depth ASAP (busy schedule including night-and weekend shifts, a thesis to write and upcoming final exams) - please allow me a quick answer to your question "why". One answer is personal - I am a visual "person", I need to see things to "capture" and comprehend them. I - truth to be told - don't know what a half-story house would look have looked and felt like when standing inside. Re: "You speak of learning about the 'early years, '” - NO, I spoke about the beginning (a point, a start, not a period) and the final ending (the last point the Lincolns reached" privately"). The time span in between and the entire development is better accessible to imagination with those two cornerstones. An even more personal "why" is that I would prefer to see the more "humble " place because I dislike palaces. (I am surrounded by old palaces, I have seen more than enough to the point that I find the luxury disgusting - and it's quite easy to live in such places.) I am generally more interested in experiencing what common people's living conditions looked like back then. The "on the other hand" - answer is that of a former teacher - from experience I know what is more and what less interesting for kids, and experiencing a development (beginning and end) has more to offer to them to think and talk about.
These answers, however, ignore the financial objection, I just wanted to explain explain why I (and possibly kids) would love this experience. I also love Anita's idea of a virtual 3D-way to tour the Dresser home instead of a solid replica - to me it seems a reasonable compromise. (And kids would for sure love that.)
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11-03-2021, 12:05 PM
Post: #32
RE: Original Lincoln Home Cottage to be Reconstructed
Eva, Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Rather than repeat everything that I have already submitted to the Symposium, I will just list a few highlights in opposition.
-- Any attempt at furnishing the 1844 cottage as it was at the “start,” would totally be a matter of conjecture. The National Park Service (NPS) preserves truth, not guesses.
-- The $400,000 to construct such a structure would be much better spent on higher priority needs at Lincoln Home National Historic Site, such as helping to restore another historic house to its Lincoln-era appearance.
-- The NPS is always underfunded and has a large backlog of operational and maintenance needs. Adding two more houses to maintain is not a priority. (One would be a replica and the other having only limited associations with the Lincolns.)

I agree with you about the importance of a “visual” experience. That is why the NPS preserves real places that have important ideals and truths that should be communicated to the American people and the world. We preserve a place like the battlefield at Gettysburg (where I first worked for the National Park Service) because it is the best place to tell what happened on July 1-3. 1863, as opposed to a book or a movie or a theme park that would try to recreate the battlefield. The NPS is not in the business of constructing replicas.

In addition to the philosophical problems of the proposal, there are issues that should have been addressed before the idea was presented.
-- The Abraham Lincoln Association did not contact the leadership of the NPS to see if they even wanted such a structure as the cottage or the addition of the Iles House.
-- Constructing a replica of an earlier form of a historic structure does not conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and NPS Management Policies.
-- The proposed boundary expansion is not identified as a future need in the Lincoln Home NHS approved General Management Plan.

Your thoughts have merit, but I believe there are more compelling reasons that mitigate against adding such a replica to the Lincoln Home NHS.

I wish you every success with what sounds like an ambitious academic schedule.
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11-03-2021, 12:23 PM (This post was last modified: 11-03-2021 12:51 PM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #33
RE: Original Lincoln Home Cottage to be Reconstructed
Thanks, Norman - as I emphasized, my answer was just to explain why I and possibly other people in this world would love this "experience" - theoretically. (To me it for sure would add to comprehend - you continue tell me it didn't.) Despite my understanding for the tax payers point of view, I honestly have zero interest in the politics of the different parties behind this warfare.
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11-03-2021, 05:44 PM
Post: #34
RE: Original Lincoln Home Cottage to be Reconstructed
Eva, Thanks for your thoughts.
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11-03-2021, 08:48 PM
Post: #35
RE: Original Lincoln Home Cottage to be Reconstructed
Just to add my thoughts:

I’ve often been annoyed by TV ‘historical’ programmes which assert that “this” is how it was. The Brits seem especially prone to these. They usually consist of digitally created maps and buildings that supposedly show how medieval or prehistoric people lived. Actors are dressed in what are claimed to be the style worn at the time. Oddly enough they usually have a full set of teeth, clean hair, and sound limbs. *

Over the years I’ve been to many touristy sites where attractions claim to show the way things were. Ranging from Wordsworth’s and the Brontes homes in the North of England to Ned Kelly’s last stand in Victoria Australia. Obviously, they are useful in their way … they do help to remind adults of momentous events and they do, hopefully, engender the interest of children.

Some places serve only to screw money from tourists. Various castles and old houses in England for example. In Australia it seems that every obsolete jail has been made into a tourist trap. Frankly, I dont like being reminded of how my ancestors were subjugated by rich barons in England and Ireland and convicts were mistreated.

Sadly, all too often the marionettes/mannequins look ridiculous (Madame Tussauds in London is one of the biggest waste of tourist time and money). The actual scenes often seem far too hygienic and lifeless. In London there is a portrayal of Churchill’s bunker with Generals, maps, telephones, etc. But I’m sure that I did not see any sign of something which would have been very numerous … ashtrays or cigarettes. The dummies serve only to make the scene laughable. The ‘Bunker’ in Singapore, scene of the British surrender to Japan is much better.

As far as Lincoln’s cottage is concerned, one would hope that plenty of imagination is used and high quality artifacts with perhaps a mouldy cat and some delapidated/broken furniture.

* It is possible to present good portrayals of ‘the way things were’. For example …

“The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that” Robert Burns
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11-04-2021, 06:18 PM (This post was last modified: 11-05-2021 04:46 AM by Anita.)
Post: #36
RE: Original Lincoln Home Cottage to be Reconstructed
Norm, sorry I'm late with this reply to your post # 30.

Thanks for the link to the tour of the Lincoln Home by Susan Haake. When I took the in person tour I often couldn't sync what the guide was describing from my viewpoint. Susan talked about some of the changes/additions were made. BTY she used the term "sleeping lofts" to describe the bedrooms in the 1 1/2 story The highest point was 6'6". She gave a very informative tour and seeing close up views through the eye of the camera was a plus.

You mention " Furnishing the cottage as it may have appeared in 1844 would be highly conjectural." This is from an article in the Illinois Times.
Ad hoc committee member Sue Massie has explored possibilities for furnishing the cottage, and envisions period or reproduction pieces where "chairs could be sat in, dressers opened, and tables used for dining. Such use would enhance the sense of the Lincolns' life in the home," Massie said.

When I mentioned the use of current technology I meant it to be used by NPS to replace the current models.

In the article by Mike Jackson he states" There is a huge crisis facing America's house museums. The public interest in this type of cultural attraction is waning and virtually none of them are self-supporting. The ALA has accurately calculated that a historic house museum won't pay for itself in admission charges and therefore needs a perpetual funding source for its long-term care."

This issue is being addressed by historic museum houses across the country by exploring innovative ways to improve the history experience. One replaced all of their furniture with replicas. Visitors are encouraged to touch the beds, sit on the chairs, and open the desks. This emphasis on a hands-on experience has restructured the way visitors move through the space and creates an environment where people are encouraged to construct knowledge for themselves by driving their own experience.

I see the Lincoln Cottage not as a museum where you can't touch and look behind ropes but a complement to the current Lincoln Home.

However this turns out I thank you for sharing your views and the concerns of NPS. And I thank you for your many years of service to the National Parks.
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