- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

BEARDSTOWN, Ill. (AP) - Efforts are underway to digitally preserve a central Illinois courthouse where President Abraham Lincoln defended a man against a murder charge.

Special 3-D scans were done Wednesday at the courthouse in Beardstown where Lincoln defended William Armstrong in the so-called Almanac Trial of 1858. The building is now called the Old Lincoln Courtroom and Museum, and houses thousands of local artifacts.

Global organization CyArk, whose mission is to digitally document buildings and sites, is working with U.S. Laser Scanning of Morton on the courthouse project. Bob Hohimer Jr. of U.S. Laser Scanning said the scans mean there will be exact measurements of the building in case it ever needs to be rebuilt.

Paula Woods, chair of the Old Lincoln Courtroom and Museum, said the courthouse is in need of preservation.

“It’s an old building,” she said. “It’s in need of constant repair, and we’d like to remodel to make it more inviting.”

The courthouse has also seen flooding in the past, Woods said, with Beardstown’s location along the Illinois River.

“Two years ago, we had to move everything we possibly could upstairs because the water was at our doorstep,” Woods said.

Hohimer said he reached out to CyArk about a year and a half ago. CyArk’s Makenna Murray said the global organization has just under 200 sites in its archives from all seven continents.

Hohimer wanted to see if sites tied to Lincoln could be digitally documented. Murray said they picked the Beardstown courthouse because “we were looking for something connected with Lincoln’s life and legacy, something that was occupied by him during his lifetime.”

Data from the scans are entered into a computer for piecing together into a full 3-D model. The data would then be sent to CyArk, and after polishing and processing, the public would be able to explore the model from a computer.

The hunt for Lincoln sites began in Springfield, Murray said, but it wasn’t the right time to do them.

“Springfield is still on our list,” Murray said.

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