Day 21, Sunday, August 5, 2018
Lincoln lived and worked in Springfield, Illinois for 17 years. It is where he established his law practice with William Herndon, and where he purchased his only home. The home he owned, and several of the neighboring homes, have been preserved as the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.
When Lincoln first purchased the home, it was a one and a half story cottage, with three rooms on the first floor and three sleeping lofts above. Even though the home was only five years old when he bought it, Lincoln did extensive renovations, raising the roof to make a full second story, adding an addition on the back, and probably removing a large columned front porch.
After Lincoln’s death, the home was rented to a series of tenants, who began charging visitors to take a tour of the home. This, and the fact that they did not leave the home in good condition, prompted Robert Lincoln to donate the home to the state of Illinois in 1887, with the stipulation that the home be available to the public at no charge. The home was restored to the period when Lincoln last lived in the home – 1861, so the home looks today like it did in the photographs taken at the time.
Ownership transferred to the National Park Service and it became a National Historic Site on August 18, 1971. The site preserves the home and other period structures within a four block area around the home.
You have to sign up for a tour in order to see the home, but as agreed, it is free of charge. The rangers take you through both levels of the home, from the public living areas to Lincoln’s and the children’s bedrooms. The rugs and wallpapers are so loud and busy! Most of the furniture is not original to the Lincoln’s time but is period. However, Lincoln’s writing desk is the one he used, and it is humbling to see. This is the desk where he wrote letters, studied and did his legal work at home.
I visited Lincoln’s Home once before, over 10 years ago, and really enjoyed the tour. It was no less incredible this time around. The rangers are great about telling the story of the home and answering questions. The tour moves fairly quickly, because Lincoln’s Home is always a popular tourist attraction, so depending on the size of the group and the time of day you may feel a bit rushed.
Be sure to take some time to wander the neighborhood as well; there are several other historic homes that have been preserved as a part of this historic site, and some interesting exhibits.
If you love Lincoln, you have to visit!