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© Abraham Lincoln Online
Lincoln Home National Historic Site8th & Jackson Streets
It doesn't impress like George Washington's plantation on the Potomac or Thomas Jefferson's mountain retreat, but Lincoln's home in downtown Springfield has proved irresistible to visitors since it opened to the public. Beautifully restored to its 1860 appearance, the Greek Revival house was Abraham and Mary Lincoln's home for 17 years. In 1844 they bought it for $1,200 and some land from the Rev. Charles Dresser, who performed their marriage ceremony in 1842.
© Abraham Lincoln Online
When the house was built, it was much smaller than you see it today, as shown in this scale model. Mary's niece wrote, "The little home was painted white and had green shutters. It was sweet and fresh, and Mary loved it. She was exquisitely dainty, and her house was a reflection of herself, everything in good taste and in perfect order."
The Lincolns enlarged the house to a full two stories in 1856 to meet the needs of their growing family. You'll find the painted frame building in a shady residential neighborhood with wood plank sidewalks, ideal for a leisurely walk. The four-block area around it is being restored to the same time period by the National Park Service.
Three of the four Lincoln sons were born here, and Edward, the second-born, died here in 1850 at nearly four years of age. When Lincoln won the 1860 Republican Party presidential nomination, he received a delegation of party officials in his parlor.
Although Mary loved flowers, neither she or her husband were known as gardeners or devoted much effort to landscaping the grounds. A long-time neighbor said they never planted trees and only kept a garden one year. Mary's sister, Frances Todd Wallace, apparently was eager to fill this horticultural vacuum, for she often came over to plant flowers in the front yard.
When Lincoln became a presidential candidate the house became a magnet for visitors, parades, rallies and other political festivities. After holding farewell receptions there in 1861, the Lincolns rented it, sold most of their furniture, and entrusted the family dog to a neighbor.
© Abraham Lincoln Online
A popular historic site, the home draws many visitors each year. If you join them, first get a ticket at the Visitor Center, then arrive at the house when your tour is scheduled. Admission is free, but tickets are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Approaching the front door, you will see a replica of the original nameplate.
Also allow enough time to see exhibits in the Arnold House, across the home to the south, and the exhibit by the National Park Service in the restored Harriet Dean house to the west of the home. The Visitor Center also houses a bookstorewith new and hard-to-find Lincoln titles, videos and related memorabilia. It is open during regular Visitor Center hours.
Hours: The Lincoln Home is maintained by the National Park Service and is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on January 1, Thanksgiving Day and December 25. For more information, including details about special events at the site, call 217/492-4241, or write: Superintendent, Lincoln Home National Historic Site, 413 S. 8th St., Springfield, IL 62703.
Travel Tip: Love fine pastries and French cooking? Head to Incredibly Delicious, a bakery and cafe four blocks south of the Lincoln home visitor center. Enjoy breakfast and lunch in an elegant Italianate setting. In addition, there are several good restaurant options on or near the city square.
Andreasen, Bryon C. Looking for Lincoln in Illinois: Lincoln's Springfield. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015.
Angle, Paul M. Here I Have Lived: A History of Lincoln's Springfield, 1821-1865. Springfield, Illinois: The Abraham Lincoln Association, 1935.
Davenport, Don. In Lincoln's Footsteps: A Historical Guide to the Lincoln Sites in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. Revised edition, Trails Books, 2002.
Gary, Ralph. Following in Lincoln's Footsteps: A Historical Reference to Hundreds of Sites Visited by Abraham Lincoln. Carroll & Graf, 2001.
Paull, Bonnie E. and Hart, Richard E. Lincoln's Springfield Neighborhood. Arcadia Publishing, 2015.
Temple, Wayne C. By Square & Compass: Saga of the Lincoln Home. Mayhaven Publishing, 2002 (revised edition).
Lincoln Home National Historic Site (National Park Service)
Lincoln Home Television Program (Illinois Channel)
Looking for Lincoln
Mary Todd Lincoln: Managing Home, Husband, and Children (JALA)
Harlan-Lincoln House (ALO)
Places Where Abraham Lincoln Lived (ALO)
Springfield Photo Tour (ALO)
"What a Pleasant Home Abe Lincoln Has" (JISHS)
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