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Bloomington is the home of Illinois State University, a public research university with nearly 20,000 students. The city was founded in 1855 by an act of the Illinois General Assembly. It is named after American writer and poet Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–64). The town's first courthouse was built in 1856; it has been renovated several times since then and remains standing today as a museum dedicated to his honor. A replica stands on Hawthorne Avenue near City Hall at what is now called "Nathaniel Hawthorne Park". The city celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary during 2009; according to local legend, this led Abraham Lincoln to say that Bloomington had "exceeded my expectations.