This Lincoln Depot is owned and maintained by The State Journal-Register, a Copley newspaper.
We saw the Lincoln Depot twice, once in broad daylight and then at night for the Ghost Tour.
The Great Western Railroad Depot is also known as the Lincoln Depot because it is the site where Abraham Lincoln boarded a train on February 11, 1861 on his way to Washington, D.C. to be inaugurated 16th President of the United States.
The speech that he gave that day to say goodbye to Springfield was concise and emotional and has become known as the Farewell Address:
"No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feelings of sadness at this parting. To this place [Springfield], and the kindness of these people, I owe everthing. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young man to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be everywhere for good. Let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell."
The building  served as a freight and passenger station. It continued as a passenger station until 1868 when a new station was built at Tenth & Washington Streets. The railroad used it for a variety of purposes. Thank goodness they did not tear it down.
Today, visitors enter on the main floor. The ticket cage is in the center, gentlemen's waiting room on the east, and the ladies' waiting room is on the west ["away from the language & tobacco spitting of the men".] There is a diorama that depicts Lincoln's departure from Springfield
You are able to see a video narrated by National Public Radio journalist Scott Simon when you reach the second floor. This video has many anecdotes of events that happened furing Lincoln's 12-day journey to Washington, D.C.
He did return to Springfield, but in a casket.
Go to the Visitor Center to get your time/ticket for tour [on a first come, first serve basis.] The home is open daily from 8:30 am until 5:00 pm [longer hours in the summer]
Lincoln Home National Historic Site is Illinois only National Park, and it is run by the National Park Service Lincoln's home has been restored as it was in the 1860s, and it stands in the middle of a four block historic neighborhood which the National Park Service is also restoring; then, the neighborhood, like Lincoln's home, will be as Lincoln would have known it.
This home is a Greek Revival house and was the Lincoln's home for 17 years. They bought it in 1844 for $1,200. At that time, it was much smaller than it is today. The Lincolns enlarged their home to a full two stories in 1856 because of their growing family.
Three of the Lincoln sons were born her, and, sadly, one son [Edward] died here when he was 4 years old in 1850.
When Lincoln won the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination, he received a delegation of party officials in the parlor of this home. As a presidential candidate, this house was filled with visitors and served as a rallie location. Lincoln held his farewell reception in 1961 at this home.
Then the Lincolns rented it, sold most of the furniture, and gave the family dog to a neighbor.
This Historic District is closed to traffic, which makes it wonderful for those touring this site. Our tour included a guide for inside the house. We took a self-guided tour of the neighborhood. It was a thrill to hear about and to actually walk inside the home that Abraham Lincoln and his family lived in for 17 years.
When it first opened, some critics said that the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum was too "Disney-like with too much showmanship". Oh, how time has proven those critics were so wrong.
Yes, the museum does use 21st century technology, but for a purpose...they literaly IMMERSE the visitors in Lincoln's world of hoop skirts, gas lamps, log cabins, ghostly visions, and campaign slogans.
Here's a list of what you are able to visit in the museum. Please take your time to absorb it all.
The rustic Indiana cabin that young Abe Lincoln called home.
Confront the horrors of slavery as you see the slave auction block where a family is torn apart in New Orleans.
A favorite of mine was when we entered A MODERN-DAY TELEVISION CONTROL ROOM and saw campaign commercials of the four presidential candidates [including Lincoln] with interpretations in the election of 1860.
Listen to black servants as they gossip in the White House kitchen about the possibility of EMANCIPATION.
Sadly, go into the Blue Room at the White House and meet MARY TODD LINCOLN at the "dawn of four tragic years"..deaths of children and husband.
Be amazed at the warp-speed of the Civil War in Four Minutes! You are able to watch the North and South armies move and see the mounting casualties on both sides. I was surprised to see that the North lost many more men than the South.
Then be in the box at Ford's Theatre as Lincoln is shot; then share in the grief of ordinary Americans as they file by Lincoln's reproduced casket in 1865.
See the THEATER SPECTACULARS:
1. Lincoln's Eyes, a multi-screen special effects that surrounds you on three sides.
2. Ghosts of the Library combines live actors & Holavision technology which takes you on a journey of discovery into the Library archives. Remarkably interesting.
The Illinois Gallery deals with changing exhibits of the history of Illinois
Treasures Gallery where you see valuable artifacts: the most important is one of five existing copies of the GETTYSBURG ADDRESS in Lincoln's own handwriting.
Mrs. Lincoln's Attic is for kids. Here children of all ages are able to dress up and play games that Tad and Willie Lincoln would have played. There's a giant dollhouse that recreats Lincoln's Springfield home. [photos #1 and #3]
Pictures to Take: Children of all ages can have their picture taken with life-size modedls of Abraham Lincoln in front of the log cabin or the Lincoln's in front of the White house. [photo #2]
1. Museum Store: It is an excellent store with lots of books, postcards,jewelry, hand-crafted gifts, reproductions, videos, cards, photo albums [I purchased one especially for my Springfield photographs] Note that a portion of the proceeds helps to support educational and other Library & Museum programs.
2. Augie's Cafe is where visitors can eat gourmet sandwiches, snacks, and hot dishes which are prepared fresh daily. They also have specialty gourmet coffees and other refreshments.
Sadly, four days before Mickey and I traveled to Springfield, Illinois, our dear friend, Jill E. Martin passed away. She is the reason that we dicided to go to Springfield in the first place. She kept badgering us to see the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum We were fortunate to visit during the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration and to be there on the date of his being shot and the day of his death. Sad, yet historic dates. Thus, I dedicate these tips to sweet Jill, my long-time friend and great travel partner.
This is truly a "state-of-the-art museum/library with its bold design, well-preserved artifacts, holographic and special effects theatres, latest interactive technology, and the largest collection of Lincoln papers and memorabilia in existence!
We were mesmerized, entertained, educated, and thoroughly enamored with this incredible place. I was especially moved by a section about the Civil War Years and how the Media Treated both Abraham and Mary Lincoln. The magazine and newspaper cartoons were just vicious.
This entire complex is dedicated to the life and legacy of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. It includes a reproduction of the White House as it looked in 1861 [See Photo # 2}.
There is also a reproduction of a typical log cabin such as the one that young Abe Lincoln lived in as a child.
IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT YOU ARE UNABLE TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS IN CERTAIN PORTIONS OF THE MUSEUM. IF YOU DO SO, ONE OF THE WORKERS WILL HAVE YOU DELETE IT ON YOUR CAMERA!
My advice is to go to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library Complex FIRST before you visit any of the other Lincoln sites. It pulls his life into perspective, giving an over-all time line and making sense of his incredible feats and defeats. Then, when you see the other sites, you will better understand and appreciate them.
Open Daily: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Adults $10.00, Seniors [62 & up] $7.00
Military $7.00 with i.d.
Child [5-15] $4.00; Child 4 & under Free
I cannot emphasize enough the impact that this museum has intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually; it is truly dynamic in content and scope!
Now that impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich is unemployed and busy making the talk show rounds and writing a book, the rumor is that his sucessor as governor will reopen the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Dana Thomas house that was closed to visitors due to budget cuts made in December 2008. It was not open for tours when we visited in February 2009 but we did drive by and take a couple of photos.
The Dana part of Dana-Thomas comes from Susan Lawrence Dana, a wealthy woman who was active in the arts, social services, campaigning for women's rights and for the equality of African-Americans. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Prairie style 12,000 square foot, 35 room house for her in 1902. After Susan Dana became senile and her possessions auctioned off, the house was purchased by Charles Thomas to be used as the administrative headquarters of the Charles C. Thomas Publishing Company. It was purchased by the state of Illinois in 1981.
While chatting with a friend one day about museums, he gushed about the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, "the best museum ever". While I didn't find it worthy of that exact proclamation, certainly it is a very well organized museum if you have an interest in American history and that of the 16th President of the United States. The materials are presented in such a way that it is appropriate for both children and adults.
We spent a couple of hours in the museum and didn't have time to get to the library. There are a couple of sections, Journey One and Journey Two, that chronicle the life of Abraham Lincoln from his boyhood in the log cabin where he grew up in Indiana to his life in the White House to his assasination by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theater in Washington DC. Ghosts of the Library explains the purpose behind the library and features a live actor interacting with holograms, I spent much of the rest of the day pondering whether or not the actor was live or a hologram. There are several other sections with items from Lincoln's life, a children's play area and a gallery with special exhibits.
Adult admission is currently $10, there might be a discount coupon in the visitor's guide.
There are a number of things to do and see in the city, all related to Lincoln. His home where he lived is one of the best sites, but also the old State Capitol is magnificent inside and is a need to see site. Besides those, there is also the Executive mansion, current State Capitol, his law offices, and some other preserved homes in the area.
This is a well replicated village where Lincoln lived for 7 years and worked on a river boat then among other things. The village is an accurate depiction of times in the 1830's, and has around a dozen homes with each having some type of normal trade that people would do during that era. The whole tour is interactive and well worth the trip.
Only open June-August mostly-but maybe some in March opens.
Locate across the street from the historic Capitol, this is the building that Lincoln had his Law Office in while residing in Springfield. It has been restored to the time period when Lincoln came here every day.
“I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington." Abraham Lincoln left his home of seventeen years to serve as president of a nation on the verge of Civil War. He left town from the city train station and returned on the funeral train to the same station.
Located just 3 blocks to the east of the house.
They make a big deal that this is the only home that Lincoln ever owned. I prefer the story of when he went on a court circuit and came back to find that the one floor house was now a 2 story house. It's a nice place to visit. Lots of little things to do.
You have to get a ticket (free), but it identifies when you'll be able to enter the house. Before that time (or after, depending how quickly you get in the house), you can visit the other houses, which have little museums inside. About archeology in the city, life in 1860, and other interesting things.
For a look at the other houses, see my Travelogues for Springfield.
When Lincoln left Springfield to start his inaugural journey on February 11, 1861, he paid an unforgettable tribute to his friends and neighbors known today as the Farewell Address. Lincoln spoke these famous words as he boarded a special Presidential train at the Great Western Railroad station, now a restored Lincoln visitor site.
The old brick depot is often overlooked by visitors but is worth investigating -- it's just two blocks from the Lincoln home. As you enter the building, you will see separate waiting rooms on the first floor for men and women. Upstairs, you can watch a video narrated by Scott Simon which describes Lincoln's 12-day journey to Washington, D.C.
Sculptor Thomas Jones remembered the day Lincoln left town from this depot: "It was a dark, gloomy, misty morning, boding rain. The people assembled early to say their last good-bye to the man they loved so much. The railroad office was used as the reception room. Lincoln took a position where his friends and neighbors could file by him in a line. As they came up each one took his hand in silence. The tearful eye, the tremulous lips and inaudible words was a scene never to be forgotten. When the crowd has passed him, I stepped up to say good-bye. He gave me both his hands -- no words after that."
"The train thundered in that was to bear him away, and Lincoln mounted the rear platform of one of the cars. Just at that moment Mrs. Lincoln's carriage drove up -- it was raining. I proffered my umbrella and arm, and we approached Lincoln as near as we could for the crowd, and heard the last and best speech ever delivered in Springfield."
Abraham Lincoln moved to springfield on 04-15-1837 and joined the law offices of John Todd Stuart. Between the years 1843-1853, Lincoln and law partners Stephen Logan and William Herndon practiced their trade in the offices above Seth Tensley's store. The building was ideal for a rising young lawyer on the floor beneath was the only Federal Courtroom in Illinois. Constructed in 1840, this is the sole remaining structure where Lincoln maintained his law practices.
It is free to tour the building, they ask for donations only.
The Illinois seat of Government moved from Vandalia to Springfield in 1837. Nine state legislatures, including Abraham Lincoln, were instrumental in the decision to relocate the capital. Although Springfield was named the capital of illinois in 1837, the offices didn't move there until 1839. Kaskaskia was the capital from 1818- 1820 and Vandalia was the capital from 1820-1839.
On June 16, 1858 the walls of the Hall of Representatives reverberated with the words " A house divided against itself can not stand". This immortal speech revealed the author's position on the spread of slavery and the Dred Scott rulling. Lincoln believed that slavery should be contained in the southern states and that the peculiar institutin would eventually die out. There were many debates between LINCOLN and STEPHEN DOUGLAS in this building.
It now houses the Illinois State Historical Library.
It is Free to enter and tour the museum inside and see the building.
The new State capital complex is huge!! It replaced the older state capital in 1876. It is very beautiful. A rapid population growth had a profound effect on the state capital so the new structure was started in 1868. Even though not completed, the legislative body began meeting in the structure in 1877 and held their first session.
Designed by architects john Cochrane, George Garnsey and Alfred Piquenard, the sixth capital building was completed in 1888. Situated on a 9 acre plot of land, it forms a Latin Cross. Constructed of limestone with granite pillars on the north and east porticos. The height of the structure is 405 feet. Murals, paintings and statues add to the grandeur of the stately building.