Springfield, Illinois was home to one of the most important figures in American history. President Abraham Lincoln’s stomping grounds are rich with history and classic architecture. It’s a beautiful city with no shortage of things that you need to see. What sights should you take in?
We hope you like The Great Emancipator…
1. Old State Capitol
Serving as the Illinois State Capitol from 1840-1876, the Old State Capitol building still stands today. It looks more like a set piece from a major Hollywood movie than a modern structure. You’ll need a sharp eye to identify the yellow limestone exterior and an eye for detail to appreciate all of the interior flourishes that set the Old State Capitol apart from its modern successor. It was in this building that Abraham Lincoln plead cases in front of the Supreme Court of Illinois. You could easily get lost picturing the monumental history that took place within its walls.
2. Lincoln Home
Lincoln Home has daily free tours. You can step inside Lincoln’s old home for a full walk through the past. In fact, Lincoln Home has been so carefully and expertly restored and preserved, that an alarm will sound if you accidentally touch something of that era (even the walls and door frames are original). You can, however, hold onto the same staircase railing that Abraham Lincoln’s hand held. The house, tiny by today’s standards, was considered comfortable at the time. It’s fascinating to picture President Lincoln going about his affairs in his home. Be SURE to check out his bedroom wallpaper – it is spectacular.
3. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is a library/museum that serves as a place to reflect and meditate on all that Mr. Lincoln accomplished for himself, his family, Illinois, and the United States (and all of its citizens). Featuring personal items of Lincoln’s, alongside artifacts from his time in office and the Civil War, the library is a goldmine of things to see and read. Preserving the works of President Lincoln and presenting the story of his life, the Presidential Library is a must-see when you’re in Springfield.
4. Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices
Before Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States, he was a successful attorney practicing in Springfield. The Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices can still be seen today. From 1844-1852, Lincoln and his junior partner William H. Herndon practiced law from a third floor office. Today, that office building and its surroundings have been faithfully restored to how it might have looked in the 1800s. It’s worth feasting your eyes on every last detail and imagining what it was like at that time.
5. Dana-Thomas House
Abrah… Oh. Wait. This doesn’t have to do with Abraham Lincoln! The Dana-Thomas House is an architectural gem designed by the celebrated Frank Lloyd Wright. Designed for Susan Lawrence Dana, it’s a prime example of ‘Prairie Style,’ an extension of Organic architecture that Wright trumpeted. In essence, Wright believed that a building should look ‘organic’ in its surroundings, as if it grew directly from the ground. Because of that, Wright’s buildings tended to be horizontal, as a nod to the flat Midwestern United States. Visit the Dana-Thomas House to see these concepts in action – you will not be disappointed.
6. Illinois State Capitol
We’ll begin and end with a Capitol building. Both buildings are unique and important. Both need to be seen. While the Old State Capitol has the classic architecture and history, the modern Illinois State Capitol is a shimmering, silvery, nod to the state’s enduring legacy. Plus, it’s interesting to see a current capitol building in action. No matter your political affiliation, government is a sight to behold.