New flag pole coming to the Old State Capitol

A helicopter delivered the new flag pole on Monday morning. (Photo courtesy: Dave Dahl/WJBC)

By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – It took just a few minutes, but – for those who were watching – it was a memorable sight.

A helicopter Monday morning lifted the flagpole from atop the Old State Capitol as part of a massive construction project.

The flagpole will be replaced by an automated version, to allow for safer raising and lowering of the flag. Other parts of the project will require the building, one of Springfield’s major historic tourist attractions, to shut down temporarily.

“That will take some time,” said Troy Gilmore, assistant superintendent for Springfield’s state historic sites, “as we work on some things like abating some asbestos in the boiler rooms and getting new bathrooms, which we have not had in this building since the 1960’s,” when the Old State Capitol was taken apart and reassembled.

Gilmore could not say when the building will close or when it will reopen.

The building, which served as the state’s capitol from 1840 to 1876, is perhaps best known as the place where Abraham Lincoln delivered his “House Divided” speech. But Gilmore says there is more to it than Lincoln.

“We are learning more about other people, like William Butler, who was an African-American  janitor who worked in the building alongside someone like John Jones to fight for freedom and abolish the Black laws in Illinois.”

Dave Dahl can be reached at News@WJBC.com.

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