The preservation group Landmarks Illinois is out with its list of the Ten Endangered Historic Places. Making the list is the Lincoln Colored Home, a former orphanage at 427 S. 12th St. in Springfield. From the group’s website:
The Lincoln Colored Home for orphaned black children was founded in 1898 by Eva Monroe, an African-American social reformer who spent her life committed to helping the black community of Springfield. The original dilapidated orphanage was replaced in 1904. The new building was built with funds raised by the Springfield Colored Women’s Club and other donors supportive of Monroe’s efforts, such as Mary Lawrence, the wife of former mayor Rheuna Drake Lawrence. Their daughter, Susan Lawrence Dana, continued to support Monroe and the home, ultimately holding title to the property until its closure and auction in 1944. Future owners occupied the house as a single-family home, but in 2005 Lyman Hubbard Sr., a former Tuskegee Airman who was raised in the East Side neighborhood, acquired the property in hopes of developing a museum and community center. Although Mr. Hubbard, Sr. passed away in 2012, his family would like to see his dream fulfilled, but lacks the necessary funds.
While City officials are supportive of seeing the house rehabilitated as a facility for community use, the city’s Building and Zoning Department has continued to issue repair or demolish notices. Although the building is safely boarded up it risks further deterioration if stabilization is not undertaken in the near future. The home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, but is not protected with local landmark designation.
It is anticipated that the house will be auctioned in the fall by Mr. Hubbard’s family. The family hopes other area organizations committed to African-American history may be willing to take ownership to not only commemorate the building’s important history, but to help revitalize a long-neglected part of Springfield that has close proximity to the City’s Lincoln historic sites.
The Springfield and Central Illinois African American Museum would like to see the home preserved and rehabilitated as a place to commemorate the history of Eva Monroe and Springfield’s early social reform movement. To contact them regarding their efforts: spiaahfmuseum.org.