ASHMORE — The new owner of the former Lincoln Springs Resort property says he thinks it might be ready for a new use in about a month.
Larry Clapp of Ashmore recently purchased the 110-acre site just north of Illinois Route 16 between Charleston and Ashmore. The property includes a restaurant, miniature golf course and other facilities that have been closed for about two years.
Clapp said he plans to offer the main portion of the site, about 10 acres, for sale or lease and keep the rest for private use.
“I’ve always liked it out there,” Clapp said. “I’d like to see something in there. Those are too nice of buildings to just sit there.”
Lincoln Springs was known by many as the longtime home of a large Abraham Lincoln statue that Clapp said is still standing in the location.
Former owner Augustine Oruwari used the site for programs for Graywood Enterprises, via which Oruwari also owned and operated group homes for the developmentally disabled. He later added the restaurant and miniature golf course to the site.
Lincoln Springs closed in April 2011, about four months after the beating death of a Graywood home resident. That marked the second time in about three years that a resident of one of the company’s group homes died because of an attack and it led to Graywood’s closing its facilities for the developmentally disabled.
Contacted Monday, Oruwari said he “kind of went back and forth” about whether to try to reopen Lincoln Springs. He mentioned lawsuits that resulted from the group home deaths and from an accident involving a Lincoln Springs tour bus in 2009 and said he ultimately didn’t want the liability risk.
“All that was part of why I was afraid to get back into anything,” he said.
Coles County records indicate that Clapp brought the property last month for $575,000. On Monday, he said negotiations toward the purchase started around the first of July.
Clapp described himself as a “clean-up” guy who has the interest and ability to acquire and improve vacant property.
“I like going in places and cleaning them up and get them up to snuff,” he said.
Clapp said the site’s buildings appear to be in good shape. Work on the property so far has included cutting grass and brush, which was somewhat neglected, as well as removing a water slide and pool, he said.
The large Lincoln statue and the miniature golf course will remain, he added. Clapp said he also purchased a group of chainsaw carvings depicting Lincoln that were also displayed at the site, but those have been moved to another location.
There are a variety of possible uses for the property, Clapp added, though he thinks it would be well-suited for a winery, banquet facility or similar operation.
Oruwari said he bought the property with the plan to provide jobs for the developmentally disabled and for something for the community. He added that he was pleased that a local person bought the property.
“It was killing me that it was just sitting there,” he said.
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