Lincoln Memorial Garden was set aside as a "living memorial to Abraham Lincoln" in the 1930s when Springfield began developing its 4,000-acre lake, Springfield Lake.
It was Harriet Knudson who persuaded the city leaders to donate land on the lake shores for this memorial garden to Abraham Lincoln. Then she spent 40+ years of her life on the development and maintenance of that garden. She convinced the Garden Club of Illinois to help sponsor the project; she then secured the services of the nationally-renowned landscape architect,Jens Jensen, to design it.
The garden is supposed to represent the landscapes that Lincoln would have experienced in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, the 3 states where he lived. To do this, thousand of trees, wildflowers, and shrubs were planted by Garden Club members, boy/girl scouts as well as volunteers. Jensen's said, "It has to be [simple] to fit the character of Lincoln" and "There are large masses of plantings to express the greatness of this man and the greatness of the country he served". What a quote!
The Garden is located on 100 acres adjacent to Springfield Lake. There are six miles of interconnected trails with about a dozen footbridges, a pond, and eight stone council rings [see photo #4] But my favorites were the benches that were inscribed with Lincoln quotes...they appear throughout the grounds for "rest and contemplation". [see photo # 2.]
There is a very nice Nature Center [see photo #3] that has educational exhibits, offices, and the lovely Split Rail Gift Shop where I purchased a loved glass bird garden stake and a wooden snake toy for the grandchildren.
After walking the trails, sitting on the "Quote Benches", and visiting the Gift Shop, I personally think that it is, indeed, a living memorial to Abraham Lincoln.
Many people may not know that the most "complete" house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is in Springfield, IL. Not only is this house huge (over 35 rooms), it also has most of the original furniture, which was also designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The guided tour is very interesting. During the busy, summer tourist season, reservations are recommended. The tour takes about an hour, and includes both the inside and outside of the house.
Descriptions cannot do the house justice. You have to see it for yourself. The link below to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, however, does a great job.
One of the most fun activities that we experienced while in Springfield was to stop by the Shea's Gas Station Museum. Be warned that there is room for only about two cars at a time, and it is not easy to get in and out of. Nevertheless, it's worth any and all efforts that it takes to see and "hear" about Route 66 and the Shea's eclectic collection over four generations.
Be sure and check out my travelogue about the Shea's Gas Station Museum
It was a thrill to meet two generations of the Shea's: Father and owner, Bill Shea who has spent over 50 years of his life alongside Route 66. I talked to him briefly, and he showed me photographs of him in various national media as well as many of his artifacts.
Just talking to him was better than any of his wonderful collection pieces. Bill is in his eighties and implies that he might retire and work only 1/2 time when he turns 90; however his son Bill says that he will believe it when he sees it!
Most of our time was spent with the son Bill who was gracious enough to show us the multitudes of "things" that his father has collected such as red petrol pumps, father Bill's original Texaco uniform, items with Texaco or Marathon on them. There are two stations here.
The newer one is a former Marathon Station, and since my father worked for Ohio Oil Company [now called Marathon Oil Company], I was most interested.
Father Bill usually sits on the back seat of an old Chevy talking about his collection and recollections to anyone whose interested, and there are plenty of people who are interested.
Son Bill's children are also involved in this endeavor, and when school is not in session, you'll see them here also. We signed their famed "guest book" and saw that there are people from all over the United States as well as Ireland, China, and Australia, to name a few.
We paid $2.00 each to experience America's Route 66 and to see a legend in the making. Wow, what a delight it was to actually talk with, to touch, and to see real history.
Over the years, the New Salem Village has expanded and added more Facilities.
The Visitor Center is rather new; it houses an auditorium, museu, exhibits, restrooms, and administrative offices. Here, we saw an 18-minutes orientation film in the beautiful auditorium. The exhibits that we saw here focused on New Salem and Abraham Lincoln. There's a staue of Lincoln, murals, and original Lincoln items. Photos # 1 and #3.
Lincoln League Museum Store is a beautiful stone structure that was NOT part of the original village. It features a variety of nineteenth-century craft reproductions by Illinois artisans. I purchased a necklace for my daughter here. See Photos #2 and #4
There is a RESTAURANT for family and large group dining located across from the park entrance that is called New Salem Restaurant. Phone: 217.632.4400
New Salem Deli & Pizzeria and Lincoln League Souvenir Shop is where Mickey and I purchased a small lunch. Mickey had a sandwich, and I had one piece of pizza and an ice cream cone. It's located near the Visitor Center. As well as food, you are able to purchase books, gifts, and souvenirs. The day we were there, the place was swarming with children on field trips from schools.
Kelso Hollow Theater [Theatre in the Park] is operated end of May through August, and several live productions are featured. This year, they are presenting "Little Women", "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", "They Knew Lincoln", "Forever This Land", "Heritage", "Mother Hicks", "Camp Sunshine", "Abe", and "Shakespeare Shorts". It is a stadium-style 500-seat theatre with unobstructed view of the multi-level stage.
Camping areas for both tents and trailers are available with showers, electrical hookups, and a sanitary station. Permits are required. Restroom and shower facilities are closed from December 1 through April 1 each year.
There are several designated PICNIC AREAS with water, tables and fire gates.
If it were not for mobs of school children on Spring trips, I would have enjoyed New Salem Village much more. In addition, I was disappointed because we were unable to see the New Salem Saw-and Gristmill because of construction on the bridge that leads to it. In the mid-nineteenth century the SANGAMON RIVER ran next to the mill. But since that time, the river has changed its course and is now considerable distance to the east.
Also, Mickey and I were expecting many more costumed interpreters taking on the characters of the people who lived and worked in New Salem Village more than 150 years ago. I was told that financial cuts have caused woes for upkeep and for interpreters.
It was good, however, to see this pioneer village where Lincoln lived as a young adult for about six years. Almost all the buildings at this park are reconstructions, many built atop the real foundations from the early 1820's. The Onstot Cooper Shop is the only original building in the village.Sadly, only 2 years after Lincoln left town, nearby Petersburg gained the county seat which cased New Salem to dwindle and die.
Here in New Salem, you see life in an 1830s trading center where Lincoln worked as a clerk, a laborer, a merchant, a postmaster, and a suveyer before he focused exclusively on law and politics. Lincoln never owned a home here, but this reconstructed Village consists of 12 log houses, the Rutledge Tavern, ten workshops, stores, mills, and a school where church services were held.
The furnishings you will see include many articles actually used by the New Salem people of Lincoln's time; others date back to the same time period [donated to the state by the Old Salem Lincoln League].
1. A costumed interpreter working in garden outside Rutledge Tavern.
2. A horse inside a "split-rail" fence beside a log cabin.
3. Another costumed interpreter cooking at the Rutledge Tavern [an Inn and Hotel].
4. The first and failed store of Abraham Lincoln called "Berry-Lincoln Store".
5. Inside the Leather Shoemakers Shop.
Hours of Operation begin in April and are open from 9:am to 5 pm until the day after Labor Day, when the site will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Shea’s Gas Station is a historic Route 66 landmark located in Springfield. The museum contains colorful signs and memorabilia collected from back in the days when Route 66 was in operation. This gas station served as a rest stop for cross-country travelers.
Springfield offers an Abraham Lincoln Historic Sites bus tour that makes it very easy to find the tomb of Lincoln. The cemetary is located a simple 3 miles away from the museum, but $3 for a day pass is well worth the convenience and ease of being taken to each important site.
Washington Park is between MacArthur and Chatham Roads, and a pleasant experience year-round. Biking, rollerblading, and running are common activities, because the roads are nice and wide. The park also has a few miles of hiking trails, if asphalt isn't your thing. I love the greenhouse, which is just next to the Thomas Rees carillon(one of the tallest in the world, by the way). It's free, and you can walk around and see all the exotic plants, smell the limes, and watch out for low-flying birds. They have some big birds(parrots, mackaws, I'm bird-ignorant) in the lobby, and they can hold some good conversations. Outside of the greenhouse are some nice landscaped manicured gardens, including a great rose garden. Ooh, when they're in bloom it smells so wonderful! Make sure you feed the ducks when you're there, too.
In downtown Springfield, on East Adams Street, is a "Springfield Furniture" store. It has some great stuff, sure, but upstairs is where everything in the world is right. Go up the rickety stairs towards the back, and you'll find Recycled Records. They have tons of records, CD's, cassettes, beer signs, and other useful stuff. The prices are reasonable, too. It's definitely worth the trip, and it's only a block away from the Old State Capitol.
Now I don't have any illusions that anyone has the slightest interest in my old office. But just in case, my office was the center group of windows on the top floor. Hey the category is off the beaten path--how much further off the path can you possibly get?
One of these courthouses is not like the others. One of these courthouses just doesn't belong....
Funny story about the Sangamon County Courthouse located in Springfield: The powers that be installed a fancy metal detector at the front entrance. Everyone has to go through it whether they be criminal, lawyer, litigant or judge. Took forever. My friend had to remember to keep his switchblade back at the office. But just around the corner, there is a side door, no security, no metal detector, anyone could just breeze in and make their way to any part of the building bypassing the security detail. Of course, that was eleven years ago and this snafu may have been corrected.
At least I think it is the Cass County Courthouse located in Virginia, Illinois. My memory is a little hazy on this point. It could also be the Menard County Courthouse located in Petersburg, Illinois.
Located in Lincoln, Illinois which is the county seat of a county that includes the town of Mt. Pulaski. Mt. Pulaski may be ten feet higher than the surrounding prairie in the rest of the county. I'm not kidding.
I've been writing about all the Lincoln Historical sites so far but I also visited the capital and the Illinois State Museum. I thought it was a fine museum. Springfield also has a botanical garden, Henson Robinson Zoo, a children's museum, and even a telephone museum I did not have time to see in the day I was there. Photo here was taken at the museum.
The MUNI is all volunteer, but it seems very professional. If you are a theater buff and are here during the summer, get a ticket and take in a performance. You won't be sorry! Check out the MUNI's website at www.themuni.org