Nearly threatened with condemnation, Lincoln Lofts was quite a challenging complex of two of the oldest commercial structures within the city of Alton and perhaps within the state of Illinois. Built individually in 1835, the buildings were combined shortly after completion to form the Franklin House, a 42-room hotel. The hotel was later renamed after Abraham Lincoln after his family dined in its restaurant during one of his celebrated debates with Stephen A. Douglas.
Like so many early hotels, the Lincoln fell on hard times in the 20th century; it closed after declining into a flop house for transients. While the ground floors remained rentable, the upper floors sat vacant for decades. A partial rehabilitation in the 1980s demolished several of the historic hotel rooms, added apartments to the second floor and left the third and fourth floors a vacant shell.
In 2006, the owners, Julie and Jason Harper, began rehabilitating the building, completing extensive structural repairs and ridding the building of its former tenants – hundreds of pigeons. The Harpers worked closely with staff at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, a requirement for obtaining the Federal Historic Tax Credit. While maintaining historic stairs, corridors, trim and pressed-metal wainscoting, the Lincoln Lofts project converted the long abandoned upper floors into 11 market-rate apartments.