Remembering Lincoln’s Fort Wayne connection on Presidents Day

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As millions of Americans celebrate George Washington’s birthday this Presidents Day, we’re taking a closer look at another president’s connection to Fort Wayne.

Many people know Abraham Lincoln was a Hoosier for part of his childhood, living in southern Indiana from 1816 to 1830. But his legacy can be seen here in Fort Wayne too.

Much of the connection is thanks to Lincoln Financial Group or Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, whose headquarters are in Fort Wayne.

Arthur F. Hall, the company’s founder, wanted to honor Lincoln’s efforts and capitalize on his Indiana connection by naming the company after him.

The company later commissioned sculptor Paul Manship to create a statue as a visual reminder of Lincoln’s influence on the company. It resulted in the “Abraham Lincoln the Hoosier Youth,” statue that stands in front of the Lincoln Financial building. It depicts Lincoln as he would have looked while living in Indiana as a young boy.

Over the years, the company continued its efforts of honoring and remembering Lincoln. One of the ways it did that was through the Lincoln Museum and Library, now the site of Citizens Square.

The museum featured one of the largest private collections of Lincoln-related artifacts.

When it closed in 2008, the items were split between the Allen County Public Library and the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. Since then, the collection has been on display in the basement of the Downtown Fort Wayne branch.

Now that display is set to get a more public update on the main floor of the library.

The library announced plans for the Rolland Center for the Study of Abraham Lincoln back in October. It’s named after Ian Rolland, former Lincoln National President and CEO, because he and his family are largely responsible for the preservation and funding of the project and artifacts.

The Rolland family donated $1 million to kick-start the fundraising campaign for the center, which aims to raise $5 million.

Now ACPL officials are looking to move forward with the project. They said the location and space have been approved, but they’re not quite ready to release that information.

The library is working with the Friends of the Lincoln Collection and architects to develop renderings that they plan on releasing in the coming months. An exact date hasn’t been announced yet.