SPRINGFIELD (Ill.) — It had been about 118 years since Dick and Tom Evans’ great grandfather, J.W. Evans built the Coliseum on the State Fair Grounds.
Now, two years after the building was condemned, the brothers were invited to see the building restored to its former glory.
“It’s really quite satisfying what they did to this building, and what they plan to do with this building in the future,” Tom Evans said. “It sort of emphasizes being the crown jewel of the state fair.”
Today, governor pritzker cut the ribbon, officially reopening the Coliseum. It took years to get the funding together to begin the project. The project cost more than 10 million dollars of public dollars. The money was appropriated from the last budget Governor Rauner passed.
The entire roof and most of the supporting structure of the coliseum was replaced.
Tom and Dick’s great grandfather started his business in Bloomington. It is the same place that Dick and Tom were born.
When they were kids, it was their dad that told them their great grandfather actually built the building.
The two don’t make regular trips to the State Fair anymore, but when they received the invite to go to the ribbon cutting, they couldn’t pass it up.
“Somebody somewhere had enough intelligence to figure out that this was one of the original buildings,” Dick Evans said.
When the coliseum was condemned, it was close to collapsing. Dick and tom were worried that their great grandfathers work would disappear. Instead, the state invested the money, and the two brothers could not be happier with the results.
“One of the grandsons said to me, ‘john, i am just so thankful that you didn’t let the building fall. That you took the effort to restore it. The architectural beauty of that building,” John Sullivan, the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture said. “It is important to restore and keep those historical architectural buildings in good shape.”