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Illinois Old State Capitol reopens for tours

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - History lovers, rejoice! The Illinois Old State Capitol is open once again for visitors to explore.

The building closed for a $1.6 million restoration project last spring. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reopened the doors to the public on October 7.

While crews spent time on plasterwork and painting, there are also two new areas for tourists to see. The education gallery has 10 historic artifacts that were original to the building. People of all ages can also enjoy the brand new video room with a short feature explaining the importance of the Old State Capitol.

Justin Blandford, Superintendent of State Historic Sites Springfield, said this project also shows how the building remains relevant today.

"We want to preserve the site and keep it in great shape so it's not just here for us to enjoy today and to be a part of our economy, but that it's here to guide future generations," Blandford said.

Blandford hopes the rest of the outdoor restoration of the capitol's dome will be done by the end of the year. Funding for the project came from the Rebuild Illinois capital spending plan.

The updated rooms with video features bring the historic site into the 21st century.

"We're really excited to introduce some new techniques in storytelling. That's how we view it," Blandford said. "The videos, commercials, and artifact highlights that we're showing bring us a little bit into the future without still leaving the past. You still feel immersed in a historic setting. And I think the changes are suttle enough that most people will enjoy it."

You must follow public health guidance inside by wearing a mask and staying six feet apart from other visitors. Signage is posted throughout the building to remind people of the guidance.

Blandford says staff are excited to have more people visit during the holiday season. He also noted they've set their sights for more projects down the road.

"We have another project coming in next year that will add even more longevity to the sight. And there will be more features and restoration," Blandford said. "We feel really good about where we're at, especially this time of year when we can welcome guests back with their favorite activities."

The Old State Capitol is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Mike Miletich

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