BLOOMINGTON – Archaeologists excavating near the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington have unearthed part of the footprint of the 1836 courthouse where experts said Abraham Lincoln worked as an attorney.
The discovery happened Monday, just hours into the first day of a couple weeks of archaeological work before construction starts on a tourism center at the site.
“They literally found where the courthouse was,” Greg Koos, the museums’ executive director, told the Pantagraph. “They found the corner and now can plot out the exact location. These are the physical remains of an incredibly historical episode in McLean County.”
One of the archaeologists, Christopher Stratton, said they found a “builders’ trench” that workers used to construct the building. The trench appears to be filled with debris from when the two-story brick courthouse was torn down in 1868. Archaeologists also found artifacts, including pieces of glass, a pipe stem, ceramic pieces and spikes and nails.
Koos said the museum may feature some of the found items in a planned Lincoln exhibit.
Stratton and Floyd Mansberger with Fever River Research of Springfield planned to try to uncover the southwest corner of the courthouse on Tuesday.
The archaeological work is required by a nearly $250,000 tourism attraction development grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Illinois Office of Tourism.