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Dana Thomas House Sees Rise in Visitor Numbers

Attendance at the Dana Thomas House in Springfield dropped during the pandemic.

The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home has always been a destination spot for visitors, and the number of those visitors rose to about 14,000 people in the last calendar year.

The Dana Thomas House closed for two weeks at the beginning of the pandemic, but historians rallied and reopened within two weeks, providing visitors an adapted tour which didn’t take them into smaller rooms.

Historic Site Superintendent Justin Blandford said outdoor experiences and walking tours were created for those concerned with being inside, such as the Walk, Bike, and Hike events.

This summer, attendance is closer to pre-COVID levels.

“Attendance is a measure that can be impacted by a lot of different factors, so just like a lot of people say, ‘Don’t look at your investments in the stock market every day,’ we don’t look at attendance every day, and try to think hard about it. We try to look over the long term for trends that can help us have a better understanding of how people are moving around our town, what people are responding to, and what we’re doing and what we’re not doing that’s influencing whether or not they come to the Dana Thomas House.”

Reservations are strongly recommended for tours. For more information, visit their website at Dana-Thomas.org.

Tarkan Barutcu, a soon-to-be sophomore at Rochester High School, wrote this article as part of the UIS Summer Journalism Camp for high school students held July 17-21.

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