The only house Abraham Lincoln ever owned is a National Historic Site and has been kept in a good state of preservation. The Quaker-brown residence where the Lincoln family lived for seventeen years is the best place to start your tour of Springfield, as it is located right in the middle of a four-block historic neighbourhood. The walk around there, along the streets, is very pleasant.
To enter the house, you will need a free ticket that you can get at the Lincoln Home Visitor Center (426 S. 7th Street). It will determine the time of your visit, organized by the National Park Service.
Lincoln purchased the house in 1844 and had it expanded and renovated several times as the family grew. It finally became a distinguished two-story residence that he rented out when he left for the White House in 1861.
Opening time : 8:30am-5pm daily, extended spring, summer and fall hours; Closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day.
Only National Park in Illinois: Lincoln's Home...
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.
- National/State Park
- Historical Travel
Illinois State Capitol
Designed in the shape of a Greek Cross, this Illinois State Capitol is the sixth [we had one in Kaskaskia, three in Vandalia, and two in Springfield].
Be prepared for a required check-in with Capitol Police/security officers at each entrance.
Once inside, requestion a tour at the Information Desk; tours are every half hour. There are no tours from noon until one p.m..
Our tour included the House and Senate galleries, Governor's reception are, Hall of Governors, and the Old Supreme Court Room. They avoided putting us on a tour with school children [thank goodness]. There were only four of us on the tour, which is ideal.
1. Outside view of the Illinois State Capitol.
2. Beautiful Rotunda's Dome Stained Glass
3. Lovely Main Staircase.
4. Statue of Stephen Douglas emblazoned with natural light.
5. Mickey seeming miniscule next to Lincoln's statue in front of Illinois State Capitol.
The First Floor Rotunda area is impressive with a beautiful statue sculpted by Julia Bracken. It was too dark to capture a good photo...it's a statue in the center of the rotunda that represents the welcoming of people to the Columbian Exposition in 1893.
This marvelous building is filled with original paintings from areas in Illinois. One of my favorites wasFort Dearborn at the mouth of the Chicago River [first floor, south corridor].
Ceiling murals are also attractive, especially on the first floor, east corridor with:
Charity Holding a horn-of-plenty
Faith is a Woman of religion holding a cross
Hope is a classic woman seated with an anchor looking out to sea
Anothing wonderful painting that I loved was on the first floor: "The Rise of Chicago, Rebirth After the Great Fire".
Mickey and I enjoyed looking at the Hall of Governors on the second floor which is Portraits of previous Governors. We tried to figure out which ones we remembered.
Both the Senate Room and the Representative Room are absolutely beautiful. When they are in session, you are able to sit in a viewing area and watch and listen. It's interesting that the House chamber has been completely redone as is larger, by far, than the Senate chamber.
Our tour was informational, even educational, and gave us a great opportunity to see where our state representatives and senators work.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site
A walk through the years that I really enjoyed. New Salem is a reconstitution of a pioneers village at the time Lincoln lived there, before going into presidency. Actually, the six years he lived there formed a turning point in his career. He came to the village in 1831 and left it as a man of purpose as he embarked upon a career of law and statesmanship. Lincoln never owned a house there, but he was engaged in several activities. He clerked in a store, chopped wood, enlisted in the Blackhawk War, served as postmaster and deputy surveyor. He then failed in business and was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1834.
Wandering the path, you’ll step back in time 150 years and discover how people lived at the time. Inside the different timber houses and stores, furnitures and articles of the everyday life have been restored as they originally were and the informations displayed at the entrance gives you indications on the people who lived in each house.
In this reconstructed village, history comes to life whit the costumed interpreters who take on the characters of the houses. You can ask the doctor which medicines he uses for example :-) Or see the blacksmith at work… Everything looks so authentic, that’s amazing ! In my picture, you can see women embroidering.
An interesting visit for those who like to figure out how people managed to live without mobiles and internet :-)
Hours : Daily Mar-Oct 9am-5pm, Nov-Feb 8am-4pm; Closed New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday, Presidents Day, General Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day
See Three War Memorials in Oak Ridge Cemetery
Do not miss seeing the three War Memorials in Oak Ridge Cemetery!
The World War II Illinois Veterans Memorial was designed by Jess Poss, who collaborated with Isaksen-Glerum Architects. "The centerpiece of the granite and concrete structure is a 12 foot diameter globe sculpted by Dann Nardi and sinifies the global proportions of WWII" There are stainless steel buttons embedded in this globe which identify strategic/major battles in the European and Pacific Theaters of the war. Then there are black granite walls that cascade out from the white globe with a wonderful TIME LINE of this war. One of my favorite quotes engraved on the black granite is: "THE EYES OF THE WORLD ARE UPON YOU. THE HOPES AND PRAYERS OF LIBERTY LOVING PEOPLE EVERYWHERE MARCH WITH YOU" General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Photos 1 and 2.
Illinois Korean War Memorial (1996) has a central design of a majestic bronze bell [12'X12') that features larger than life sculptures of men representing the four branches of the military..ARMY, NAVY, MARINES, AND AIR FORCE. The Granite base is inscribed with the names of 1,745 Illinois servicemembers that were killed in action during the Korean War.
Mickey and I think that the best part of this memorial is the sound system that is installed under the memorial area, and it broadcasts timed musical selections every half hour. This memorial is on a 2 acre site, and it has its own sprinkling system, and public address system!
There's a basement under the memorial which allows maintenance of the lights & speakers. Spot lights under the base illuminate this memorial at night. Professor Robert Youngman from the University of Illinois is the memorial Sculptor.
The national tree of Korea is Rose of Sharon, and the people of Korea donated 400 trees that surround the Memorial [they bloom in late summer]. Photo 3
The Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial was designed by the winner of a contest judged by 44 veterans and their families. They chose the design by twenty-year-old, Jerome Lager of Breese, Illinois. This Memorial has a circular plan without a front, back, or sides which symbolizes the UNITY OF ALL FIGHTING MEN AND WOMEN. When you visit, you are able to enter the interior courtyard from any direction, "just as Illinois servicement came from all parts of the state". There are 5 black granite walls upon which 2,970 names of those who died or are still missing were etched. The 5 walls, one for each of the 5 branches of service. An ETERNAL FLAME burns atop the Memorial where the gray granite walls converge. The inscription on the outer walls reads: TO THOSE WHO DIED: HONOR AND ETERNAL REST, TO THOSE STILL IN BONDAGE: REMEMBRANCE AND HOPE, AND TO THOSE WHO RETURNED: GRATITUDE AND PEACE Photos 4 & 5.
- Historical Travel
Illinois State Museum
The Main photo shows a very unique Totem Pole called "Proud Raven" that features a carved Abraham Lincoln on top!
Although The Illinois State Museum was not either Mickey or my favorite site, I do feel that it is worth seeing.There are three floors of exhibitions. The Museum Store with its unique selection of educations toys, books, cards, scientific games and high quality crafts is very nice and is located on the First Floor. Also on the first floor is an all new NATURAL HISTORY EXPERIENCE. It has hands-on interactives, thousands of authentic fossils and natural history specimens, life-size dioramas, audio and video effects. This exhibit explores 500 million years of environmental change in Illinois.
The Second Floor has "At Home In the Heartland" which is an interactive exhibit that explores the history of family life in Illinois...it presents a picture of the lives of Illinois residents from the 18th century to the present. Another exhibit on the second floor is "Peoples of the Past" which uses Life-size dioramas that trace the evolution of Native American cultures in Illinois from 4,000 years ago through the 19th century. There are also Changing Exhibitions of fine and decorative arts.
The Lower Level of the museum has the Morton D. Barker Paperweight Collection which presents Barker's large and presitgious collection of paperweights [most were created in post-Napoleonic-era France]. There is a great place for children on this floor called A Place for Discovery". It is a hands-on gallery where children can see, touch, create, and discover. Finally, this lower level has Changing Exhibitions of the many aspects of life and art in Illinois.
- Road Trip
- Museum Visits
The Great Western Railroad Depot
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.
- Historical Travel
More Abraham Lincoln Information
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.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
At the request of Mrs. Lincoln after Abraham Lincolnwas assassinated in 1865, he was buried in Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery. Infact, Mary Todd, Tad, Eddie, and Willie Lincoln are all buried in the Lincoln Tomb. The oldest son, Robert, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
When you visit this beautiful monument, you are given a brief orientation to the site, and then you walk [without talking] the corridors that lead to the burial chamber. Here in this peaceful atmosphere, you will see reduced-scale statues of Lincoln as well as excerpts from Lincoln's many speeches.
This imposing monument was designed by sculptor, Larkin Mead. It was completed in 1874.(Photos #1, #4) Interestingly, there is a "receiving vault in which Abraham Lincoln was first buried while the final tomb was being completed. See Photo #4.
There is a sculpture of Abraham Lincoln before you reach the tomb. Folklore says that if you rub the nose of Lincoln, it will bring you luck. Note in [Photo #5] how Lincoln's nose shines and is lighter than the rest of the statue due to all the rubbing over the years!
Oak Ridge Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Illinois and the second-most visited cemetery in United States [after Arlington]. "Oak Ridge was named for the large stand of oak trees which flourished on the banks of spring Creek. Many of these historic oaks still remain to shade the grounds" This cemetery is 365 acres. There are four Illinois governors buried here as well as Lincoln's law partner, William Herndon.
There is a special flag-lowering ceremony held each Tuesday evening during the summer by Civil War reenactment soldiers of the 114th Illinois Regiment. Then, the flag is given to one of the visitors.
The Cemetery is open March through October on Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November through February on Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed on Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays. Entrance to Lincoln's Tomb is FREE.
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
We were fortunate that this beautiful Executive Mansion has reopened to the public since Governor Quinn has taken over the office. The Mansion is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is FREE.
The Executive Mansion is the home of the Illinois governor. It was noted in our tour that seven U.S. Presidents [including Abraham Lincoln] have been received here.
Our tour includes three levels that are open to the public. We saw four formal parlors; a state dining room; the ballroom; four bedrooms, including the Lincoln bedroom See Photo #4.
This bedroom has overnight guests of the First Family. It has an ornately handcarved set of furniture that was once owned by the Abraham Lincoln family. We also saw the library [see photo #3]. It is paneled in solid native Illinois Black Walnut.
The home is a red brick Italianate mansion that has been home to Illinois governors since 1855. It was renovated, and the beautiful staircase was brought back to its original design.
Govern Quinn uses 6 rooms in the mansion for his private use and are not on the tour.
Because they do not allow photographs within the mansion, I bought two postcards which I used to show the beauty of the interior.
The grounds of this Executive Mansion are just beautiful, and since it was April when we toured it, we were impressed by the Spring flowers. See photo #5.
If you are in Springfield on a Tuesday or a Thursday, be sure to tour this lovely mansion.
- Historical Travel
New Lincoln Museum/Library, Our Reason to Go
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!
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
The Dana-Thomas House
A Frank Lloyd Wright gem, built in his early Prairie style between 1902 and 1904 for the wife of a prominent Springfield lobbyist. It's one of the best preserved Wright properties in the Midwest, with most of its original furniture, light fixtures, skylights, art-glass decorations and windows. You have the sense that at this point in his career, Wright's primary concern was still to meet the needs of his clients, not (as I think it later became) to express the brilliance of his creativity, often at the cost of practicality. If you are a Wright fan and live in the Midwest, the Dana-Thomas makes a trip to Springfield essential.
- Historical Travel
Old State Capitol
"A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand, ABRAHAM LINCOLN"
The Old State Capitol in Springfield is where Lincoln spoken beneath the great dome to launch his inaugural [and initially unsuccessful] drive for the U.S. Senate. This speech is most famous for the quote at the top of this page which set the stage for his landmark debates with Stephen Douglas.
The Old State Capitol is also where Lincoln's body lay in state as about 75,00 mourners filed by to pay their respects.
Recently, this is where now President Barack O'Bama gave his speech to begin his official run for President...on the steps of this famous old structure.
The Old State Capitol is Illinois' fifth statehouse and the first to be located in Springfield, Illinois. This building served as the State Capitol for Illinois from 1839 to 1876. It also had an important role during those years leading up to the Civil War [the struggle between Lincoln and Douglas].
This is a Greek Revival-style building that was totally renovated in the 1960s. If you visit the Old State Capitol, you may take a 30-minute interpreter-conducted tour or view the rooms on your own. There is a 15-minute orientation video about the building's history.
Mickey and I really enjoyed seeing all the rooms, lights, furniture, and architecture of the Old State House. Thank goodness they had the foresight to bring it back to its former state to share with the citizens of our country.
This important building in Illinois history is decorated with period furniture in the House and Senate chambers, the Supreme Court, and offices of Illinois officials. Photos of the interior show some of those areas
HOURS: Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 '.m.
Closed on Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays.
Free but donations are suggested.
- Historical Travel
Lawyer Lincoln's House
Well, Abraham Lincoln was one of those Springfield attorneys of his own time, and he took part in the money-laden politics of railway age. Which just goes to show you can never tell where genius might spring from. This home, purchased for $1500 in the 1840s, was the only property Lincoln ever owned. It's modest yet respectable, certainly a lot more suitable for an aspiring lawyer and politico than the kinds of shacks and cabins that Lincoln was born and raised in. You can still sense how concerned Mary Todd Lincoln must have been to keep up appearances, to buy the right furniture and wallpaper, to maintain the standarts of appearance and propriety for the neighborhood.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
State Capitol and Mc Kinley’s sculpture
This sculpture represents Republican Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen and was created by Carl Tolpo in1975. Financed by the State of Illinois, the statue is 11 feet high and flanked by two smaller figures of an elephant and a donkey, symbolizing the Senator’s popularity with both political parties. This was an opportunity for me to learn that the dondey symbolizes the Democratic party and that the elephant represents the Republicans. The origin of the donkey dates back to a cartoon by Thomas Nast published in 1870 in the Harper’s Weekly, where it was supposed to represent an anti-Civil War faction, and to a remark made in the Minnesota Legislature: “The Democratic party is like a mule--without pride of ancestry or hope of posterity." Later, Nast drew a donkey clothed in lion's skin, scaring away all the animals at the zoo. One of those animals, the elephant, was labeled "The Republican Vote."
McKinley’s sculpture is located on the southeast corner of the Capitol lawn and is one of the 12 statues standing in Springfield’s Capitol Complex.
Former Governor Stratton dedicated the bronze sculpture and said “Presidents, regardless of party affiliation, relied on the Senator’s encompassing knowledge”. The statue is also referred to as “a monument to what is best in our political system”.
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