The Sterling- Rock Falls Historical Society purchased the building at 607 E. 3rd St., Sterling in March 2007. This was the home of the Manahan family where Lincoln stayed during his visit to Sterling, July 18, 1856. With its Lincoln connection the Society thought it worthy of preservation and decided to restore the home back to its 1856 appearance and open it to the public as a home museum. A major consideration was that this would be a great educational tool for local students.
The original portion of the home was built in 1847, making this one of the oldest surviving structures in Sterling-Rock Falls. During restoration there was no evidence of a kitchen in the original portion so it may have been built as a store, as this was a business area at one time. Within a few years a wing was added in the back for a kitchen. From land records it appears that Dr. A. W. Benton may have converted the structure into a home sometime after buying it in 1849.
A residence for many years, in the 1950s the building was again used for commercial purposes. Over the years it served many purposes; a beauty shop, office for the Whiteside County Board of Realtors and lastly as a bridal shop. The Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society purchased it to save the structure and return it to a home with the look and feel of the time when Lincoln visited in 1856.
Restoration began in 2007 with volunteers. In the fall of 2007 a general contractor was hired, Richard Dombroski, who had extensive experience in historical restoration. When the restoration was completed the Lincoln-Manahan Home Museum was dedicated on July 18, 2011 exactly 155 years to the day after Lincoln spent the night.
In November of 2016, work began on the new Lincoln Learning Center to be built on the east side of the Lincoln- Manahan Home.
For details as to how Lincoln wound up at this home, its connections to the founding of the Republican Party in Illinois and the Underground Railroad stop by for a tour. The Home is open Saturdays and Sundays 1-4 pm, from April 1 through November 1. It is open other times by appointment for group tours, call 815-622-6215.