Springfield, IL: Part II – Lincoln Home

26 10 2009

On Saturday, Oct. 10 this year my family and I visited the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, IL (see overview of the trip here).  We started at the visitor center (VC), which has a scale model of Springfield as Lincoln knew it (click on the thumbnails for larger images):

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We got our tickets for the tour of Lincoln’s home, situated around the corner from the VC on 8th St., and had enough time before the tour to see a fine film in the VC auditorium.  Journey to Greatness tells the story of Lincoln from the time he arrived there from New Salem to the time he left it as president-elect.  I thought the filmmakers did a nice job with AL’s appearance and especially his voice, which by most accounts was strong and high-pitched.  After the film, we took the short walk to the home down the street.   Below are front, side and rear images of Lincoln’s home:

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Four blocks, one in each direction from Lincoln’s home at 8th St. & Jackson Ave., have been closed off and historic buildings on them have been restored.  The effect is quite impressive.  The last image below is a recreation of a log cabin float used in parades and rallies during Lincoln’s presidential campaign:

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The NPS moves groups through the home in an efficient but quick manner.  At any one time, there are three groups in the  house (except for the 1st and 2nd groups of the day, and the next to the last and last groups).  The tour goes right in the front door (the original nameplate is in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum), through the parlor, and through the dining room (at least, I think it was the dining room).  Then it’s up the stairs past the guest room, into AL’s room and Mary’s connecting room (not uncommon for the time), past the boys’ room and the servant’s room, back downstairs to the kitchen, and out the back door to the yard.  When you enter the home, there’s a nook behind the stairs in which hangs a stove-pipe hat, shawl, and a few walking sticks (none of these are actual artifacts as far as I know, but I liked the look):

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The black horsehair (I think) furniture in the parlor are original pieces, owned by the Lincolns, and our guide told me he thought the hinge on the parlor door was one of the few remaining pieces of original hardware.

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The dining room was notable for its colorful floor coverings (not original or from a fragment, but rather the result of research into the fashion of the times) and the stereo viewer AL bought for the boys for the princely sum of $25.  The guide referred to it as a 19th century X-Box – my son got a kick out of that.

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I was looking forward to using the stairs to the second floor, as I was aware that this was one of the few chances I would ever get to actually touch one of Lincoln’s possessions, something he used every day.  This is the original handrail, and we were encouraged to use it.

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Once upstairs, we proceeded past the guest room (probably Robert’s room until he left for Harvard) and entered Lincoln’s bedroom (the desk is original and the one he used); that’s Henry Clay and Daniel Webster over AL’s mantel, and that’s our guide in the doorway from Lincoln’s room to Mary’s. 

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Next we passed through Mary’s bedroom.  I’m not sure if that was her potty, and I didn’t think to ask. 

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In the back hallway, we went past the bedroom of Willie and Tad, complete with children’s toys and boots, then past the servant’s room, downstairs through the kitchen and out the back door to the yard.

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A reconstructed privy sits in the back yard.

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On Sunday evening, we returned to the Lincoln Home for some night-time shots.

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The Lincoln Home is a wonderful stop, alone worth the trip to Springfield.

Part I

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

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