We slept very well – the temperature was in the 70’s so we did not even need the air conditioning. We woke up at 8:00 and had a good breakfast before heading into Springfield to learn as much about Lincoln History as our time and stamina would allow!
Our first stop was at the Lincoln Home Historic Site. We picked up tickets for the house tour – 30 minutes away. This was great as we had read sometimes you had a one or two hour wait. We spent the 30 minutes wandering around the restored 4 block area. The National Park Service has purchased all the homes in this 4 block area. If the home was from the Lincoln era they have restored it and if it was more modern then it had been removed. There were restored homes on at least 75% of the lots. All had been restored on the outside and the inside was restored as money was available and used for park service offices. Some of the buildings had displays and were open for viewing. Our guide told us IL Senator Durbin had an office in one of the homes but as far as she knew had never been here.
View towards the Lincoln home.
The Lincoln home
Each home had a sign noting who had lived there and their relationship to the Lincoln family. Lincoln lived in this home for over 20 years while he was an attorney in Springfield and during his time in the IL state legislature.
The tour of the home was guided taking about an hour. We were able to visit all the rooms in the home but as in many famous homes had to stay on the specified carpet! Mrs.Lincoln was from a wealthy Kentucky home and had been used to fine furnishings and slaves. After marrying Lincoln she learned to cook and keep house – and did both very well.
Formal Parlor with black horsehair furniture
Mrs Lincoln’s sewing table and basket
Mrs Lincoln’s most prized possession – her stove!
When the Lincoln’s purchased the home it was a 1 1/2 story 3 room cottage. As their family grew and Abe was more prosperous they added on twice. They had 4 boys – 3 of whom died during childhood.
The Park Service had an excellent film giving a brief history of Abe Lincoln’s life before election to president and his presidency.
We left the National Park and proceeded to the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum about a mile away. Along the way we passed the First Presbyterian Church where the Lincoln family had a pew. Since it was Sunday morning we could not visit to see the inside of the church.
First Presbyterian Church – Springfield IL
The Presidential Library and Museum was a large complex mixed in among many hospital buildings and parking garages. Since it was Sunday we were lucky to find a parking spot on a side street.
The museum was composed of several galleries and two video presentations. We viewed the Civil War Medicine gallery and then stopped in the Subway for lunch. This was my only negative regarding the museum as I am not a Subway fan and it was your only choice. You could leave and come back in but it was a 2-3 block hike to another food choice.
After lunch we toured the Pre-presidential Gallery. No photographs were allowed in the galleries but you could take photographs outside in the rotunda.
Abe in his humble beginnings
The displays about his early ventures into politics were interesting. I did not remember there were 4 candidates when he ran for president! The country was more divided then than today; but Lincoln was determined to fight for the preservation of our union.
Next we toured the Presidential Years Gallery which was also quite impressive. One display with Lincoln at his desk pondering with numerous voices yelling their opinion at him illustrated how difficult it must have been for him to make decisions.
The Lincoln’s outside the White House
One of the displays that impressed me was the White House kitchen. It resembled in many ways the kitchen in the Lincoln house in Springfield. A similar but larger cook stove and the food stored in much the same way. Have to remember it was 1860!
Another Gallery included an original Gettysburg Address and other Lincoln artifacts.
The two audio visual presentations were outstanding. One was done in holograms and impressed upon us the value of artifacts and how historical documents can help us learn about the past. The second told the story of the civil war from the focus of the importance of the preservation of our Union. I believe these were both done within the last 5 years and were excellent,
It was 2:30 and we had just enough time to tour the Dana Thomas house. This was an excellent Frank Lloyd Wright house and Jane had been trying to visit one for several years, Well today as in the past it just was not to be….neither of us were up for another hour of walking through exhibits without a bit of a rest and there was no time for that….so next time!
We headed back to camp and enjoyed reading and a bit of catching up on the internet, Jane cooked one of her stock electric skillet camping meals – chicken, dressing, gravy. With a can of cranberry sauce and a green veggie it makes an easy and filling meal. And best of all only one pot to clean!
We are awaiting the rain that has been to the west of us all day…we want it to rain tonight so we can have clear skies for tomorrow a travel day.
Our impression of Springfield is a very nice clean city. Lots to do and you could certainly find enough to fill 2-3 days. Add it to the list of placed to return someday. We succeeded in learning more about one of our outstanding presidents.