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Peoria County Courthouse Unveils New Lincoln Portrait

Peoria Public Radio/Kristin McHugh

A new Lincoln portrait graces the second floor of the Peoria County Courthouse. The same portrait is going up in all 102 county courthouses in the state.

It’s a celebration of one the state’s favorite sons for Illinois’ Bicentennial year. The high resolution picture is one of the clearest ever made of Lincoln. 10th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Paul Gilfillan says the portrait was created by two glass-plate positives.

“Those two original plates owned by the Historical Society are now kept in a vault in Peoria Illinois and are deemed by Christie's Auction House of New York to be the only such positive glass images in existence. I can’t imagine the value,” says Gilfillan.

The picture shows a beardless Lincoln about a year before his presidency. It was taken June 3, 1860, at what is now the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

One of the famed Lincoln-Douglas Debates took place at the Peoria County Courthouse as did an 1854 speech where he attacked the morality of slavery.

80 of the 102 courthouses in the state already have the new Lincoln portrait.