Rep. Weaver calls for repairs to Bishop Hill Historic Site

State Representative Travis Weaver (IL-93) and State Senator Neil Anderson (IL-47) are urging the General Assembly and Governor Pritzker to set aside funds in the 2024 budget for critical repairs needed at the Bishop Hill State Historic Site.

The Bishop Hill State Historic Site in Henry County is a small village that includes a beautiful array of historic buildings, memorials, a park, and gazebo. The settlement dates back to 1846, when the community was founded by Swedish immigrants fleeing religious persecution.

The Bishop Hill site includes a Visitor Center, Museum, Park, Colony Church, and Hotel. The Bishop Hill Heritage Association (BHAA) works to retain Bishop Hill as a living community while encouraging all efforts to restore and maintain historic properties and cultural heritage. The BHHA also provides guided tours for large groups, and visitors can also enjoy self-guided tours.

However, the buildings are in desperate need of attention and repairs. They’re maintained by a state agency, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), but they require funding from the General Assembly and Governor to be able to make these repairs. The buildings have suffered through years of deferred maintenance, leading to foundation cracks, water leaks, rotting soffits and windowsills, and other issues.

“As a state we have a job to maintain our infrastructure, and it’s unfortunate that these historical buildings have been allowed to fall in such disarray,” said Sen. Anderson. “The continued neglect of Bishop Hill is unacceptable. We need the Governor and the General Assembly to prioritize funding to repair and maintain these incredibly important structures.”

“Governor Pritzker should be embarrassed by his agency’s ability to care for historic buildings,” said Rep. Weaver. “Several decades ago, the state decided to take ownership of the Bishop Hill historic properties in order to preserve them; however, since then, they have allowed these buildings to nearly fall into total disrepair. Illinois Democrats will scream about a lack of funding – but make no mistake, this is 5% about funding and 95% about poor management from the Pritzker administration. It doesn’t take much funding to ensure windows are sealed and gutters are working properly, which prevents buildings from falling into ruin. Fortunately, I have confidence that the recently appointed IDNR Director, Natalie Phelps-Finnie, is highly competent and can right the ship. But it must happen faster. We’re on the brink of losing the Bishop Hill properties and wiping away nearly two centuries of history. The Governor has a pool of discretionary funds – we see him use it regularly to prop up illegal immigration and subsidize pet projects – I am calling on him to immediately release the funds necessary to fix the Bishop Hill properties.”

Action is needed immediately from the state legislature and the Governor to commit funds so IDNR can make the necessary repairs and restoration work at this historic site. There is no more time to waste to save this historic village that has fallen into disrepair.

Bishop Hill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and listed in 1984 as a National Historic Landmark.

A press conference on this topic was held today in Springfield. See the video below.