Small Illinois Town Pursues Big Historic Preservation Goals

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Ill., March 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — In the heart of Schuyler County lies the small western Illinois town of Rushville, home to 3,000 residents, where Schuyler County Architecture Foundation (SCAF) saved a piece of history from demolition and vanishing into obscurity. In 2018, an 1850s historic home, notable for its connection to Abraham Lincoln’s visit and speech in 1858, stood neglected and in dire need of intervention.

Enter SCAF, a 501(c)3 non-profit established in early 2019 by proactive community members determined to safeguard their heritage. With a mission to advocate for the preservation of historic structures, the SCAF embarked on a monumental endeavor.

“Our journey began with a leap of faith,” remarked Schuyler Isley, Founder and President of SCAF, reflecting on the pivotal moment when a board member used personal assets to acquire the property for $20,000.

Beyond its association with Abraham Lincoln, the old home, subsequently named The Ray House, revealed deeper historical significance as the homestead of U.S. Senator William H. Ray, dating back to the county’s founding in the 1830s. The SCAF rallied community support and garnered recognition when The Ray House was listed among Illinois’ Most Endangered Historic Places in 2019.

Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating construction costs, the SCAF persevered. Through grassroots fundraising and volunteer efforts, they secured $280,000 in contributions and over 1500 volunteer hours by 2024. The SCAF is aiming for completion by late 2025 to coincide with Schuyler County’s bicentennial celebration.

In addition to preserving The Ray House, the SCAF seeks to inspire broader historic preservation efforts across Schuyler County.

“There are countless untold stories in historic homes across America,” said Isley. “By sharing our journey with The Ray House, we hope to inspire others to take action and safeguard their heritage.”

As a non-profit organization committed to preserving historic architecture and Schuyler County’s cultural legacy, the SCAF invites individuals to learn more about their mission at and on their social media platforms at @rayhouse1850. For inquiries, please contact Schuyler Isley at

About Schuyler County Architecture Foundation:

SCAF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to preserving historic architecture in Schuyler County and beyond. Established in 2019, SCAF protects landmarks like The Ray House through fundraising and advocacy, fostering community engagement and inspiring preservation efforts nationwide.

Contact Information:
Name: Schuyler Isley

Phone Number: (309) 331-4555

SOURCE Schuyler County Architecture Foundation