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Bryant Cottage State Historic Site
Visitors to the Bryant Cottage Holiday Open House will get to experience holiday traditions in the 19th Century Style from 5-7 pm on Saturday, December 7. Guests will enjoy exploring the period decorations throughout the Bryant home lit by candle light. A large Christmas tree will be decorated in handmade ornaments similar to those of the 19th Century. Musician Sarah Henry will provide live holiday music with her dulcimer and other instruments.
Bryant Cottage State Historic Site – managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources – is located at 146 E. Wilson Ave. in Bement, Illinois. Bryant Cottage was built in 1856. According to Bryant family tradition, on the evening of July 29, 1858, Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln conferred in the parlor of the house to plan the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates.
During November through February, Bryant Cottage is open to visitors Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. during March through October.
About Bryant Cottage State Historic Site:
Bryant Cottage State Historic Site preserves and interprets the home of businessman and politician, Francis Bryant, his wife Sarah, and their children. Built in 1856, this Bement, IL cottage is furnished with period appropriate furniture, including pieces owned by the Bryant family. The house museum helps demonstrate what life was like during the settling of this region of Illinois. It focuses on the middle-class life of the Bryant’s in the mid-to-late nineteenth century.
The cottage is also important for the role that it played in the Illinois Senate Race of 1858, when Abraham Lincoln challenged Stephen A. Douglas’s senate seat. On July 29, 1858, Douglas and Lincoln met in the Bryant’s parlor and negotiated the seven joint discussions that would famously become known as the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. These debates drew national interest and helped shape political ideas of the time. They also introduced Lincoln to a national audience, which helped launch his presidential candidacy two years later.
Bryant Cottage strives to connect visitors and the surrounding community to the important history of the site. Bryant Cottage puts on school programs, presentations to groups, host field trips, and special events throughout the year.
Bryant Cottage was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in September 2017 for its preservation of a hall-and-parlor style home and the historical meeting between Lincoln and Douglas.