WILMINGTON — Before a miniature replica of Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois permanently lands in either Springfield or Gettysburg, it will be displayed in the rotunda of the Clinton County Courthouse.
Commissioned by the late Gary Kersey, who was a lifelong resident of Clinton County, and handcrafted by Clinton Countian Charles “Charlie” Lakatos, it is truly a product of Clinton County, as well as being a to-scale model of the house where Abraham Lincoln lived for 17 years until he left in 1861 to serve as the 16th president of the United States.
The intricately built likeness is being exhibited for the local public to see thanks to the Kersey Estate.
Gary Kersey’s daughter, Nina, said though her father loved history and was an expert on Lincoln, the striking model was not created for the sake of Lincoln. It was created for the rest of us, to see the Lincoln home and hear the stories behind it.
“It’s about his [Gary’s] passion for people to appreciate and see things. He wanted it to be a tool to share with others,” said Nina.
And share it with others, he did. The Lincoln house has been all over the country, toted here and there for Lincoln-related talks.
The plans are to have the house — and perhaps another Kersey-commissioned model of the front of the Lincoln house — to be on display at the courthouse for about two months. Nina thinks she would like to exhibit both replicas by switching about halfway through.
The model of the house’s front will permit the viewing of carvings of human figures representing a congressional delegation at the house, she said. These carvings were done by Don Mertz of Clinton County, a retired minister well-known for his skills with the cutting knife and chisel.
Nina (Benjamin Brown) Kersey and her sister Gena (Timothy Orr) Kersey together will decide upon the final home for the Lincoln house.
It took four men last Friday to convey the miniature house onto the landing of the county courthouse stairway. Courthouse officials ask the admiring public to please not touch the house, but simply look it over.
On Tuesday morning, Clinton County Board of Elections employee May Gerchak Stewart stopped to get a good look at the Lincoln house.
“It’s just extraordinary,” she said. “Very, very nice.”
Area residents were lucky to have in their midst Gary Kersey and his enthusiasm for history and Lincoln, said Gerchak Stewart. She recalls attending “Lincoln’s Last Hours” presented by Gary Kersey several years ago at the Murphy Theatre. In particular, she remembers a Lincoln bust on display at the event.
After seeing the house for the first time, Clinton County Jury Commission Clerk Ka’Shira Myburgh said she’s amazed by the craftsmanship.
“It makes me want to do research on the house,” she said.
In fact, she just may bring her daughters, 15 and 12, to see the replica house. Which, no doubt, is exactly the effect Gary Kersey wanted.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.