April 30, 2013 Springfield, Illinois
Landmarks Illinois Press Conference announcing
“2013 Ten Most Endangered Landmarks List”
I’m Sandra Lee Thielman, I would like to introduce Mr. Don Bahlman, Mr. John Bry & Mr. Bob Howard, who are here with me today.
I’m here today to tell you about the Beecher Mausoleum. There are thousands of mausoleums in our country and hundreds in the State of Illinois. Many share the same origins as Beecher, and unfortunately, many have suffered the same fate. That is, the management boards and funds ceased to exist long ago.
Seventeen years ago, I was horrified to find the condition of my family members’ crypts in the Beecher Mausoleum. I began my journey to research the history and restore the humanity and dignity owed to the founding fathers of the Beecher area as well as my own ancestors.
Over the years, I’ve contacted hundreds of descendants all across our country who are as alarmed about the mausoleum’s condition as I am. They care; they have donated what they can, but the efforts of this small group are not enough. I have secured local Will County Landmark Status and applied to the National Landmark Register. I have created a not-for-profit organization. I have reached out to the Beecher and Washington Township communities for support, and many are behind our mission. However, local officials are in a quandary over revenue sources for this problem.
Within the past year, Mr. Howard and I have received the commitment of local unions to donate labor for the most critical repairs. We’re still in desperate need of funds for construction materials and a perpetual care fund for the future.
We also need to change some of Illinois Laws regarding abandoned and neglected mausoleums and cemeteries. It is my belief that it is not the mausoleums that have failed, but an organizational break down.
I know that Illinois laws can be amended without burdening the general public.
For more information please ask for one of our flyers at the end of the meeting or go to www.beechermausoleum.org or www.hallowedspaces.org to learn more about community mausoleums
In closing, let me ask you: Will our laws protect your grandparents’ graves permanently? Don’t they deserve a secure final resting place? In Beecher and every town in America the answer is “YES.”
—Illinois Senator Sam McCann, Jacksonville, IL spoke at the press conferences. He promised help for community mausoleums.