guyBy Bob Balgemann Reporter

 BOONE COUNTY – Historic Auto Attractions at 13825 N. Metric Drive, off Rockton Road, will reopen Saturday, May 23 for its 15th year.And speaking of years to remember, this is the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, as well as the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Those interested in the 16th president of the United States may see a large room filled with memorabilia by visiting the museum.Owner Wayne Lensing of Poplar Grove said he put the Lincoln room together six years ago, after obtaining most of the vast collection of Dr. John Lattimore, who died in 2007.”A lot of what’s in Springfield is homemade,” he said of Lincoln trivia. “Ours is real.””Rare” is another word that could be used to describe what’s in the Lincoln Room at the museum. There’s a piece of cloth from the Lincoln Catafaulque, a raised platform used to support the president’s casket. This one was used for the first time in the United States for Lincoln’s funeral in 1865.Since then it has been used for those lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. When not in use, it is on display in the Exhibition Hall at the United States Capital Visitor Center.That piece of cloth, according to a certificate of authenticity, is “thought to be the largest in private hands.”Also with that display are two tassels from the same catafaulque. And elsewhere in the room are six handles from Lincoln’s coffin. A focal pointA wax figurine of Lincoln is in the middle of the room. Also in the glassed enclosure is a photograph of the president for which he posed 11 days before giving the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863.Another of the rarities in the exhibit is a chair Lincoln used in his private study, next to the Oval Office. There’s another chair, from the train in which he did much of his traveling during his presidency.He was elected to a second term as president in 1864 and took the oath of office in January 1865. Lensing’s museum has a section of carpet on which Lincoln stood during the inauguration.There are lots of photographs, several of them associated with his assassination.Affixed to one wall is a large photograph of the four co-conspirators hanging after their simultaneous executions July 7, 1865. Another photograph shows the empty gallows with their adjacent graves.The four were Lewis Powell, also known as Lewis Payne; David Herold, Mary Surratt and George Atzerod. Also in this area of the room is a large photograph of Lincoln lying in an open casket in Springfield, Ill.; manacles worn by Powell while he was in jail and, later, while standing on the gallows; pieces of bandages that were on Surratt’s hand the day she was hanged; and bits of the ropes used to hang the four.In addition, there’s a photograph of Christian Roth, who pulled the lever that dropped the trap doors on the gallows. Another assassination-related artifact is a piece of cloth from the rocking chair in which Lincoln was sitting when he was shot to death at Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. The actual chair is on display at the Henry Ford Museum. Other photos on a nearby wall show the log cabin in which Lincoln was born; the cabin he lived in while he was 2-7 years of age; and the windowless schoolhouse in which he learned to read and write. A 35-star flag Yet another wall contains a tattered, 35-star American flag that accompanied Lincoln from 1863-65. It was carried by the president’s bodyguard and flag bearer, Master Sgt. Smith Stimmel, and likely was flown while the Gettysburg Address was being given. Other artifacts are from Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. They include a dress and shoes along with the mourning skirt she wore to services for their son, Willie, who died in the White House in 1862, and the president himself three years later. Once the museum reopens, a flat screen television will be on continuously, with information about Lincoln and the Civil War. “You can read what’s on the walls and be educated,” Lensing said, which was a goal of his while assembling the collection of memorabilia. He added that it took a room that large to show all of the collectibles he was able to obtain concerning Lincoln’s life. The 36,000-square-foot building that houses Historic Auto Attractions is a diverse place and that was an overall goal of Lensing while collecting items for display. There are cars that once carried presidents, the car that followed the one carrying President John F. Kennedy the day he was shot to death in Dallas, Texas, cars that carried European dictators and celebrities and cars from motion pictures and television series. Artifacts including clothing and personal items that were owned by movie stars, famous musicians and notorious gangsters are part of the museum’s collection. The museum also is home to the Illinois Hall of Fame for Stock Cars and, recently, the father of NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace was inducted.  Part of the museum has racers from the NASCAR and Indy Car circuits, including one that once was driven by former Roscoe resident, Danica Patrick.Historic Auto Auctions is open from now through Labor Day weekend and then weekends only in September through November. Current hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. It is closed Mondays. Admission prices are $13 for adults; $11 for seniors and veterans; and $8 for students 6-17 years of age. A season’s pass is $25 per person.

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