Print version: Litchfield farm, Main Street on endangered list

Matt Hopf

Ophelia Niemann is the proud owner of a farm that has stood the test of time but is in some trouble.

The 21-building Manske-Niemann Farm in Litchfield has been owned by the same family for more than 160 years and is known as one of the most intact examples of a 19th and early-20th century farm in Illinois.

Niemann said she is maintaining the farm and working to keep the farm "in shape."

"(The buildings) are all the same as they were when they were first established," she said. "Nothing new has been added and nothing old has been destroyed."

Despite the efforts, the Litchfield farm is again making the list of historic places in Illinois that are endangered, according to a Illinois historic preservation organization.

Landmarks Illinois announced its annual 10 most endangered sites Tuesday at a Statehouse press conference. The Manske-Niemann Farm was listed for the second time - the first coming in 2001.

"The reason this property is still here and intact and in such remarkable condition is due to the family that has owned it for decades and decades," said Jim Peters, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois.

In the 16 years the list has been released, about 170 endangered sites have been identified.

"Less than 20 percent of those sites have been lost, 35 percent have been saved and the rest we are still working on," said Jim Peters, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois. "We don't forget about the sites once they're listed, and I know that the local community groups never forget about the sites."

The Illinois Main Street Program was also added to the list this year. Staff cuts in the program have lead to cuts in services. The program has assisted communities with historic preservation development on main streets across the state.

"When you cut that staff to one person to handle 70 towns, it has a great impact on the ability to actually produce and help these towns," Peters said.

Gov. Pat Quinn told reporters Tuesday he long has supported the program and wants to get it back to full strength after a tough economic time.

"We just have to weather this economic recession and get to a better place. Main Street is always going to do OK as far as I'm concerned," Quinn said.

Besides the Illinois Main Street Program, Peters saw the projects needing private investment.

"I don't think we are looking in most of these cases for government assistance," he said. "I think we are looking for in some cases a sensitive owner, in other cases somebody else coming in and helping out, a bank selling a property. It's only the Main Street Program that is a government program, but it has a lot of private support across the state."

The Lewis Pharmacy in Canton and the Archer House in Marshall were both saved by private developers after being placed on the endangered list in 2009.

Matt Hopf can be reached at 217-782-3095.


A look at Landmarks Illinois Ten Most Endangered Historic Places. Details about the endangered places can be found at

Bass-Mollett House, Greenville

Chanute Headquarters and Mess Hall, Rantoul

Illinois Main Street Program, Statewide

Manske-Niemann Farm, Litchfield

Massac Theater, Metropolis

North Pullman, Chicago

Prentice Women's Hospital, Chicago

Red Cliff, Moline

St. Laurence Complex, Chicago

Uptown Theatre, Chicago