CITY OF PRINCETON: The Pride of Princeton
City of Princeton issued the following announcement on Sept. 4.
There are fewer than 100 National Historic Landmarks in Illinois and about 2,500 nationally. To qualify, a location must have held a significant importance in our nation’s history.
The Princeton home of the Rev. Owen Lovejoy, where those who had escaped the cruel bonds of slavery would be given refuge and safety, meets that criteria.
Several years ago, the Lovejoy Homestead received a bequest, and trustees decided the money should be used for a special project. They developed a plan to refurnish the home and arrange the layout to more accurately portray Lovejoy’s time in Princeton.
“Most of the furniture and accessories dated from 1875 and later,” Pam Lange, a trustee, said.
“Most felt is was acceptable to have the home furnished with these later pieces since Rev. Lovejoy’s widow, Eunice, lived here until 1899,” Lange said.
The homestead operated as a private museum through the 1940s and 1950s, and was purchased by the state of Illinois in 1967. Following its restoration, the home is now owned by the city of Princeton and was awarded National Historic Landmark status in 1997.
“It’s been a multiyear project that’s now nearing its completion,” Lange said.
The home’s furnishings are now in the Empire style, which was popular in the early 19th century. Other changes include the relocation of the children’s bedroom, Lovejoy’s study, and the site’s collection of historical documents.
The documents include several items on loan from the Lovejoy family, including speeches, sermons and a memoir of his brother, Elijah, the only book Lovejoy wrote.
New pieces to the homestead also include a new portrait of Lovejoy donated by a descendant; a gaming table that had once been in the Lovejoy home; several books and Bibles that had once belonged to Lovejoy; and a 1934 watercolor painting of the home by local artist Mary Win Norris.
“She painted it when she heard they were planning to demolish the house,” Lange said.
The board was assisted with their acquisitions by a Chicago-area antiques dealer who also provided guidance in other areas of the restoration.
Lovejoy arrived in Princeton in 1838 to minister for the Hampshire Colony Congregational Church. The year before, he’d witnessed the murder of his brother, Elijah P. Lovejoy, at the hands of a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois, who was angry with Elijah’s abolitionist newspaper.
Following the brutal killing of Elijah, Owen vowed “never to forsake the cause that was sprinkled with his blood.”
He held true to his vow and in the following years, the Lovejoy Homestead became an important link in the Underground Railroad. Lovejoy helped to organize more than 100 anti-slavery churches in the state, and in 1843, was indicted, but acquitted, for harboring two fugitive slave women.
Lovejoy made the fight against slavery political and won election to the Illinois Legislature in 1854. He was elected to four terms in the United States House of Representatives starting in 1856 and also developed a close friendship with Abraham Lincoln.
He was also a man who wouldn’t back down from political threats or physical danger. When called a “negro stealer” and threatened by opponents in Congress, Lovejoy was defiant and claimed it as a title of honor.
“Proclaim it upon the house-tops! Write it upon every leaf that trembles in the forest! Make it blaze from the sun at high noon and shine forth in the radiance of every star that bedecks the firmament of God. Let it echo through all the arches of heaven, and reverberate and bellow through all the deep gorges of hell, where slave catchers will be very likely to hear it. Owen Lovejoy lives at Princeton, Illinois, three-quarters of a mile east of the village, and he aids every fugitive that comes to his door and asks it,” he exclaimed.
In tribute to the courageous Lovejoy and in celebration of his homestead’s newest additions and historically accurate changes, free tours of this historic landmark will be available to the public during the upcoming Homestead Festival.
On Friday, Sept. 7, tours will be available from 1 to 4 p.m.; on Saturday, Sept. 8, tours will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and from 3 to 5 p.m.; Sunday tours will be available from 1 to 4 p.m.
Following the Homestead Festival, the site is open May through September, and tours are available from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment. Call 815-879-9151.
Original source can be found here.
Source: City of Princeton