Tag Archive | Springfield Illinois

Circus Trip 2018: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library

Day 22, Monday, August 6, 2018

Springfield is home to the Lincoln Museum and Library, a fascinating place!  The museum has many interactive exhibits, which are fun for the whole family.

When you first go into the museum, there is a performance in the museum’s theater.  It is probably best described as a play, but features a live actor interacting with holograms as the other characters!  It takes place in the museum’s library and shows the viewer several items of historical significance to Lincoln’s life.  The technology also allows the live actor to fade out of the scene, and they literally disappear in front of the viewer’s eyes!  If you go, make sure you check this out!

The Lincoln Museum also has a number of exhibits.  I really enjoyed the live actor who discussed Lincoln’s draft of the Emancipation Proclamation and the events leading up to it.  The actor portrayed Francis Carpenter, the actor who painted the portrait of Lincoln and his cabinet members.  He was very well informed, and coherently expressed the arguments for and against issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.  I watched for quite a while and was impressed by his level of knowledge.

Another favorite of mine was the map that moves through the Civil War time period, showing the movement of battles throughout the country, the territory held by the Union and the Confederacy, and tallying up the toll of casualties.  The map moves at a consistent pace, so you can see how some periods of the war were much more active and deadly than others.  It is punctuated with significant events of the war – it was very well done!

There are also exhibits of Lincoln artifacts, as well as an interesting exhibit on the cartoons that ran in the media outlets during his presidential campaigns and presidency.  If you think the media is ruthless and not neutral now, well, it wasn’t any different back then.

And last, but certainly not least, the Lincoln artifacts.  The museum displays a number of items that once belonged to Lincoln and his family members, including letters Lincoln wrote, jewelry he gave to Mary, and various memorabilia associated with the family.  There are also Lincoln items of historical significance, like sculptures and photographs of Lincoln throughout his life.  It is powerful to be so close to these articles that Lincoln once held in his own hands and see items that are 160 years old.

Across the street from the Lincoln Museum is an additional exhibit in the historic train station.  The exhibit when I visited was the movie Lincoln.  They had costumes and props that were used in the movie.  They also showed photos of the original clothing that the costumes were based upon.  Sally Field bears a resemblance to Mary Lincoln, especially when she was made up and costumed for her role in the movie, and it shows in the photos of the two that were displayed side by side.  They did a great job in the movie making things historically accurate, and it was interesting to see some of the props up close.

After I left the Lincoln Museum, I continued my journey east and arrived in Indiana.  I was going to be staying two nights in Dana, Indiana, with Marilyn, my brother’s mother-in-law.  It would be nice to be sleeping in a real bed, in a real house!

I got to Dana around dinner time, and Marilyn and I went out for dinner at a brewery in Terra Haute.  It was nice to be a passenger in a car and not have to drive!

Circus Trip 2018: Dana-Thomas House

Day 21, Sunday, August 5, 2018

In addition to being the land of Lincoln, Illinois has another famous man who made a name for himself in these parts 50 years after Lincoln died – Frank Lloyd Wright.  He lived in a suburb of Chicago, but his designs were far reaching, with homes in Pennsylvania, Arizona and probably every state in the nation.  Springfield has a Frank Lloyd Wright home that has been incredibly preserved; the Dana-Thomas House.

Mrs. Susan Lawrence Dana lived in an Italianate mansion that had been her parents’ home; she hired Frank Lloyd Wright to remodel the home between 1902 and 1904.  It is truly stunning, and a home that stays very true to Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style.  Mrs. Dana married, but her husband was a bit of a dud and she ended up divorcing him; she never had children, but she was quite a philanthropist and set up a school of sorts to teach black neighborhood children at a time when education for the poor residents nearby was not a priority.  These children had fond memories of Mrs. Dana and spending time in her home library, where they could read, check out books, or play with toys.

In her later years, Mrs. Dana’s finances suffered, and she became ill with dementia.  As a result, her home and belongings had to be sold to pay for her debts and her care.  At that point, the Mr. and Mrs. Charles Thomas bought the home as a complete lot and lived there until Mrs. Thomas’ death in 1975.  Their estate sold the home to the state of Illinois in 1981 for $1 million, which was considerably less than they could have gotten had they parceled out all the furnishings and sold the home separately.

The state of Illinois offers home tours for a $10 suggested donation for adults, only allowing small groups on the tours to prevent damage to the home and furnishings.  It is incredible.  No detail was missed, and the home has been remarkably preserved over the years.  When Mrs. Dana had the home remodeled, one room was left in the Italianate style as a tribute to her parents; it is a contrast to the prairie style of the rest of the home, and interesting to see this dark, heavily decorated room in the center of the home.

Interestingly, Mrs. Dana was allowed to choose her own knickknacks and artwork to decorate the home; often a requirement of working with Frank Lloyd Wright was that he was in charge of all of your home décor, and you didn’t get much.  That vase on the sideboard had to be selected by him, if you were permitted a vase at all.  It goes without saying that I would have not been allowed to commission his work, being the collector that I am.

I really enjoyed this tour, although the tour guide wasn’t the warmest or friendliest person in the world.  I often wonder why people like that take jobs guiding tourists around, if they are sure to be unhappy in the role.  I snuck in right before the tour started, so I watched the movie about the history of Mrs. Dana and the home afterwards; be sure to check that out.

No photos are permitted inside (this seems to be true for all the Frank Lloyd Wright homes that are open to the public), so I did buy a guidebook that has photographs of the interior.

After my tour, I headed down to try out a Springfield microbrewery, called Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery.  Obed &Isaac’s is located in a historic home that is located on the property of Obed Lewis, a contemporary of Abraham Lincoln – Lewis’ three children played with Lincoln’s children.  Unfortunately, the Lewis home had lost its historic charm over the years with numerous remodels, and the owners made the difficult decision to raze the home.

They then purchased the Isaac Lindsey home, another Lincoln era home in Springfield, and moved it to the site.  While they were drawing up plans, they realized that it was too small, so the Isaac Lindsey home was converted to a coffee house, and the Booth-Grunendike home was finally the one that was converted into the Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery.  They really, really wanted to save a historic home!

At Obed & Isaac’s, I had the Strawberry Blonde seasonal ale, and their chicken and waffles.  They were excellent and it gave me the energy for more touristing!

Circus Trip 2018: In the Land of Lincoln

This morning I am in Springfield, Illinois.  I have been touring some of the Lincoln sites for the last two days, and loving it!  I did throw in a Frank Lloyd Wright house too, for good measure – it was really cool!  I am so enjoying this!

The last couple days have been hot, hot, hot – temps at 90 with high humidity, but it’s been ok.  It did mean I set up the tent because the car would have been too hot!  I have been serenaded with a cacophony of cicadas, and the birds start up about 5 am.  My earplugs come in handy!

My view on 8/6/2018 – Springfield, Illinois

Yesterday I visited Lincoln’s tomb, which is one place I didn’t get to on my only other trip to Springfield.  It was humbling to stand where Lincoln is buried (safe from the graverobbers now…).  Of course, I had to rub his nose for good luck!  I made a wish, but I can’t tell you, or then it won’t come true!

Who wouldn’t want to rub his nose for luck!? I made a wish…

I’m off to see some more sights – just wanted to update everybody on my progress!