It’s no tall tale: In the Land of Lincoln, Strevell House preservation is nearly complete

Historic building is Livingston County’s last remaining structure to have hosted Honest Abe

He was a giant of a man—both in the annals of American history, and in physical stature.

Before Abraham Lincoln’s star ascended, though, Jason Strevell wasn’t so sure about the man’s full measure, so to speak.

In January 1860, a full 10 months before Lincoln moved into the White House, Strevell invited his friend and fellow attorney Lincoln to Pontiac, Illinois, to speak before the Pontiac Young Men’s Literary Society. And at a reception at Strevell’s home later that evening, the six-foot-tall Strevell questioned Honest Abe’s height.

“So Lincoln got up and stretched himself out, and they marked the door frame and measured it. Sure enough, Lincoln was six-foot-four,” says Bob Sear, president of the Livingston County Historical Society in Pontiac.

“The door frame ended up out west in Utah somewhere in a museum, back in the 1930s and ’40s, and then it disappeared,” adds Sear. “It was just a little notch, a little bitty mark, on the frame of the door. But we ended up with the house.”

A good thing it did, too—because Strevell House, the last remaining structure in Livingston County to have hosted Lincoln as a guest, had become a run-down apartment complex by 2008, with the owner threatening to tear it down.

But a group of locals, acting on the recommendation of a Lincoln scholar, purchased the house and turned the title over the Livingston County Historical Society.

And ever since, the society has been giving Strevell House a full makeover—with new plumbing, heating, wiring, insulation and foundation work.

With a meeting space for bookings of up to 50 people, as well as an art gallery, Strevell House is both a Lincoln museum and a public gathering place, and it’s preparing for a long-awaited grand opening on June 23 at 10 a.m.

“It looks great, and it’ll become a focal point of our community’s Lincoln history,” says Sear. “We’ve restored the formal entertainment area, where Lincoln likely visited, to as close to its original state as possible—and at the same time we’ve built a multi-use facility for the community.”

Enbridge is committed to improving quality of life in the communities where we operate. Enbridge and some of our business partners have supported Strevell House restoration for the past several years with funding and in-kind donations, including much of the structural restoration work, and we recently donated another $5,000 toward the project.

“Just after we got the house, and we didn’t know what to do with it, Enbridge came into the picture with some money and some engineering work, some rewiring,” says Sear.

“I really believe that if not for Enbridge, this restoration project would still be going on. We couldn’t have done this without them.”