Lincoln appearance delights expo attendees in Chicago

Abraham Lincoln hams it up with a visitor to the Illinois REALTORS® booth celebrating the state’s 200th birthday. Photo: Jon Broadbooks

Lincoln poses with REALTOR® Vicky Turner, who chairs the Illinois REALTORS® Bicentennial Task Force.

Abraham Lincoln paid a visit to the Illinois REALTORS® booth at the NAR Conference and Expo Saturday to help celebrate the state’s upcoming 200th anniversary.

Lincoln, portrayed by Fritz Klein of Springfield, posed for pictures with expo attendees at McCormick Place West where the association had its booth. Visitors could stop by and get a special commemorative pin along with their selfie with Abe.

Abraham Lincoln chats with Illinois REALTORS® President Matt Difanis at the association’s expo booth at McCormick Place West.

REALTORS® Sonia Anaya and Nancy Suvarnamani pose with Lincoln.

Illinois’s 200th years as a state is in 2018, and Illinois REALTORS® has a number of activities planned to commemorate the occasion.

Local REALTOR® associations are undertaking service projects and providing support for historical sites in the state, and Bicentennial Plaza, A REALTOR® Community Partnership is being built just north of the association’s headquarters.

The Bicentennial Plaza has been designated a Signature Project by the state Bicentennial Commission.

Those stopping by on Saturday were encouraged to post theb picture on social media with the #REALTORSworkingwithHeart or #Illinoisproud hashtags.


Bicentennial Plaza transformation begins

A steam shovel operator starts knocking down an old bank building Friday as part of the Bicentennial Plaza project. (Bill Kozar Photo)

Construction crews have begun dismantling an old bank branch building and chiseling up pavement to make way for the Bicentennial Plaza – A REALTOR® Community Partnership in downtown Springfield.

The demolition launches the $2 million project which will be part of a vision to link the Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site to the state Capitol with a pedestrian mall. Once completed, the space will be available for public use for events ranging from performances to craft shows.

Bicentennial Plaza is being built on land owned by Illinois REALTORS®, a century-old trade association representing more than 47,000 real estate professionals. The association saw the creation of the public space as a way to give back to the community and the state.

The former bank building is on Sixth St., east of the Illinois REALTORS® headquarters. (Bill Kozar Photo)

“Illinois REALTORS® wanted to do something significant to celebrate the state that has provided so much to our members and those who rely on them,” said the association’s 2018 president, Matt Difanis. “Since our headquarters is located in the heart of Springfield’s historic district, our members felt it was important to play a supporting role in the bicentennial celebration.”

The plaza will extend from South Fifth Street to South Sixth Street. As part of the work, a former bank building will be demolished to make way for a space which will feature interpretive panels celebrating the people, places and events that complement Lincoln’s vision for society with equality and opportunity for all.

The association formed a task force nearly two years ago to begin planning for the project which is located on the north side of the association’s Springfield headquarters. Bicentennial Plaza is listed as a “Signature Project” by the state’s Bicentennial Commission, and will be part of festivities celebrating the 200th birthday in 2018. Chicago REALTOR® Jim Kinney is on the commission, and has been a longtime advocate for preserving the state’s heritage.

“Illinois REALTORS® work with heart in every community, so it’s only natural that we want to play a role in celebrating the state’s rich history,” said Jim Kinney, who is also a past president of Illinois REALTORS®.

The association is working with local REALTOR® associations throughout Illinois to commemorate the Bicentennial. More than 30 projects are being undertaken by these associations ranging from funding long-needed improvements to providing labor for clean-up days.

The pavement in the Illinois REALTORS® north parking lot has been torn up so that a pedestrian mall for public gatherings can replace it.  (Bill Kozar Photo)

Bicentennial video contest deadline extended to Oct. 31 for Illinois high school and college students


Illinois high school and college students can submit a historical video and possibly win two tickets to see Hamilton, the musical, in Chicago on Dec. 3. (Bigstock Photo)

Illinois REALTORS® can contact local high schools and colleges and notify local news media that the deadline for entries in the “Something to Learn About Illinois History” Video Contest has been extended to Oct. 31. Go to to register.

The contest will reward 100 Illinois high school and college students who submit an original video that highlights a fact, event, place, person or something to learn about the history of Illinois. The video must be 45 to 60 seconds in length.

The 100 winners will get their videos aired and posted online for others to see, plus they will receive two tickets to the Dec. 3 matinee showing of Hamilton in Chicago. The matinee will officially kickoff the 100-day Bicentennial Countdown.

For more details about the contest, go to

Every city and town in Illinois has a historical story to tell, just like Pontiac, Ill. (Bigstock Photo)


Barricades go up; visible sign of progress on Bicentennial Plaza

Construction crews have installed barricades along South Fifth Street in Springfield in preparation for work on the Bicentennial Plaza, A REALTOR® Community Partnership. Photo: Scott Moomaw

One of the first visible public signs that work was beginning on a plaza adjoining Illinois REALTORS® Springfield headquarters took place Thursday with the installation of construction barricades.

The fencing is hardly the first step in the process to build Bicentennial Plaza,  A REALTOR® Community Partnership. Planning behind the scenes has been ongoing for more than a year as planners work out utility relocation, drainage issues and other design elements.

The barricades will allow construction to begin the transformation of a parking lot on the north side of the Illinois REALTORS® building to a pedestrian-friendly walkway which will feature interpretive panels showcasing the city’s history. Once completed next year, the plaza will serve as a centerpiece for the celebration of Illinois’ 200th birthday.

The Bicentennial Plaza is part of a long-planned vision of a pedestrian corridor which will link the Abraham Lincoln Home National Historic Site with the Executive Mansion and the Illinois Capitol.

Saturday last day for students to enter bicentennial video contest and win Hamilton tickets

Illinois college and high school students (ages 14 and older) can win one of 100 pairs of Hamilton tickets by entering the Illinois Bicentennial “Something to Learn About Illinois History” video contest by Sept. 30.

Entrants must create and submit an original, 45-to-60-second video to The tickets are for the matinee showing of the popular musical on Sunday, Dec. 3 in Chicago.

The video contest is just one way the state is celebrating the Illinois Bicentennial. Read the contest rules, then fill out the registration form. You can even see a sample video on Facebook or Twitter.