On November 9, 2017, on our trip to Springfield, Illinois, we decided to make a stop at the home of the Lincoln's where he lived when he became President Elect.
After following the GPS, we came across a four block section of town that was blocked off. We could tell from the car that these homes were restored to the way the looked when Lincoln would of lived there. We only had one issue, we could not find a parking space. We drove a couple blocks down and parked along the street. Later we discovered a parking lot, but it was off a one way street, so we would have never ran into it while driving there.
The first item we came across when we entered the complex was a log cabin wagon. We did not find out if this was a reconstructed or a relic from the period. The assumption is that it was a reproduction since it was sitting outside. None the less it was a pretty impressive looking wagon. Again, the assumption is that it was a replica of a device that the Lincoln campaign used.
Since we entered the complex from a different area then the main entrance, we noticed as we made our way to the welcome center that this was just not a site that featured Lincoln’s home, but an entire complex that consisted of an entire block of homes that were in existence during the time the Lincoln’s lived in Springfield. This area is not ran by the National Park service and the renovation and upkeep of these buildings are amazing. For a complete listing of all of the houses and buildings at this complex visit: https://www.nps.gov/liho/lincoln-neighborhood.htm which has a great listing of each building.
We made our way up to the visitor’s center where we were prepared to purchase a ticket to tour the Lincoln Home. To our surprise, there was no charge for the tickets. In fact, we learned later that it was an agreement between Robert Lincoln and the State of Illinois that no personal shall ever be charged to visit his father’s home. He sold the house to the state for $1 for that agreement. Later, of course, the National Park Service took over the residence, and carry on honoring that agreement to this day. So, if you are looking for something to do for FREE. Go and visit the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois. You will not be disappointed. With that being said, we got our tickets, and headed over the Arnold House (which was being used as a gathering area for those taking the tour, since the weather was a little cooler outside).
Inside the Arnold House, while we were awaiting our tour, we viewed various artifacts collected from the Lincoln privy. It was quite interesting seeing actual ink wells that were used by Abraham Lincoln. The following are photos from inside the Arnold House.
The tour began right out front of the Lincoln home. Our tour guide (Ranger Rose), talked about life in Springfield when the Lincoln’s lived in the home and how they renovated it after they purchased it for only $1200 (plus $300 for more land).
You can see that tour video below:
After the introduction outside, we “stepped back in time” and went inside the only home that Abraham Lincoln ever owned. The house has been restored back to what it was before the Lincoln’s left for Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, not all of the furnishings inside the house are originals, but there are some. When the Lincoln’s left for Washington, D.C., they sold most of their furnishings and rented out the house. Abraham never sold this house, and upon his death it went to his eldest son Robert. As mentioned above, Robert later sold the home to the State of Illinois to be used as a museum.
The first room that you visit when you enter the house is called the “formal receiving room.” In this room, which basically looks like two rooms connected together, the Lincoln’s would receive their guests and entertain those who came into the house. The boys where not permitted in this room since it has some of the more expensive items and furniture that the Lincoln’s owned. Most of the items in this room however, did belong to the Lincolns. Everything you see in the following photos were originally their property, with the exception of the rocking chair with the black material.
From the parlor area, we went into the dining room. This is where the Lincolns would of had most of their meals. This is not a very large room, but it served the purpose.
From the dining room, we went into the family parlor. This is where the family spent most of their time. You can almost imaging Mr. Lincoln sitting in a chair reading the paper, while the boys where playing with their toys, and Mrs. Lincoln was working on mending some clothing.
The boys had several toys that their father purchased for them. One of these “high-tech” toys was a stereo-scope. You could put in the stereo-type photographs and view them in 3-D. This stereo scope is the original one that belonged to the Lincolns.
Although Mrs. Lincoln had many activities to keep her occupied, she still made sure that she spent time working on the families’ clothing. The following is her original sewing desk that she would use.
After spending some time in this room, we went back out into the main hallway and went up the front stairs to the area that the Lincolns added onto the original house. The bedroom areas. The railing going up these stairs, was the original railing that was in the home when they lived there. With that, we actually used the same railing that Abraham Lincoln used when he walked up the stairs every night to go to his bedroom.
The first room that we saw when reached the top of the stairs was the “guest” bedroom. This room also served as Robert’s bedroom after he left for school. When he left, the younger boys took his room, so when we returned home for visits, he just stayed in the guest room.
Across the hall from there is Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln's bedroom. Although they did share a bedroom, after Mr. Lincoln was elected president that much. Most nights he would stay up reading or writing letters and Mrs. Lincoln decided she would give him his privacy to work, so she would sleep in the younger boy’s room after they moved over to Robert’s old bedroom. She would also sleep in the guest bedroom sometimes as well, since there was a trundle bed in the other room and it was not that comfortable for her to sleep on.
This is not their original bed; however, the wall paper was recreated to match what would of been in the room at the time.
This is an original writing desk that belonged to Mr. Lincoln. You can imagine the countless hours he spent sitting at this desk writing letters.
The mirror hanging on the wall belonged to the Lincolns.
The next room we visited was the room that used to belong to the younger boys. This room does not have any original furnishings.
We then went back out into the hallways, and looked into the younger boy’s “big boy” room that they called it. Again, originally this was Robert’s room, but they now have it decorated with toys, depicting that this room belonged to the younger ones.
At the end of the hallway was the "Nanny’s” room. The Lincoln’s did not own slaves, nor did they have servants. They only had one younger girl that lived with them that would help take care of the children. She was compensated for this as well, which made her a paid employee.
We then went down the back staircase which came into the kitchen. This is where Mrs. Lincoln cooked all of the meals for the family.
The tour was over when we exited out the kitchen onto a small porch area (the one of the left in the picture below).
This was a great location to visit. See how the Lincolns lived during their “peaceful” time while living in Springfield was another one of those things that were on our bucket list.
Another interesting thing that we found as we were walking back to our car to leave, was the location where most of the photos of the home have been taken. They have these viewers setup to stand at the location and take your photo.