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Springfield historic sites report uptick in visits

SPRINGFIELD – Attendance at most historic sites in and around Illinois' capital city have jumped since last year and state officials credit the new "Lincoln" movie directed by Steven Spielberg as a factor.

Visits to Springfield area historic sites were up more than 3 percent in the first 11 months of 2012, according to a story posted online late Saturday in The (Springfield) State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/TqWQmG ).

The sites include the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which also offered discounted admission for those who brought in ticket stubs from the movie.

"We imagine 'Lincoln,' the movie, contributed a bit to the uptick" in attendance, said Illinois Historic Preservation Agency spokesman Chris Wills.

The actor Daniel Day-Lewis prepared for his role as Abraham Lincoln by visiting several historic sites in Springfield himself. The movie focuses on the 16th president's final four months and has received a thumbs-up from some of Illinois' top leaders including Gov. Pat Quinn.

Officials say the Lincoln Home National Historic Site experienced a 1.2 percent overall decline in visits through November because of a decrease in school field trips, but saw a spike in attendance after the movie hit theaters in the fall.

Officials said the movie isn't the only reason behind the uptick. Other factors included the re-opening of the Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site, which was closed for much of 2011 for renovations. Also, the play, "The Heavens are Hung in Black," about the time leading up to the writing of the Emancipation Proclamation, was presented at the museum.

"That may have brought a new audience, people who hadn't been here before," Wills told the newspaper.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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