On our last day in Springfield, we visited the Illinois State Capitol and Abraham Lincoln’s home.
The Capitol building is undergoing some restoration, so parts of it were curtained off, but we had a very nice private tour, since we were the only people there at 11:00 am. This is the sixth capitol since the state was admitted into the U.S. in 1818. It was built over a 20-year period 1869-1889 at a total of $4.5 million. Some $6.00 was returned at the end, since the builders stayed within budget!
The building is 361 feet high, exceeding the height of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. The dome is impressive inside.
However, when all the lights were gas-powered, a large amount of soot was deposited on the stained glass of the dome, so a major cleaning project was conducted in 1986 to return it to its original brilliance. Each of the 9,000 pieces of stained glass were removed, cleaned, and re-leaded.
All of the chandeliers, ceilings, walls, pillars and furniture are extremely impressive and ornate. Many of the chandeliers can be lowered for cleaning. All were originally gas-fueled and converted to electricity.
The Senate Chamber.
The House of Representatives Chamber.
Lots of statues of historically significant individuals can be seen throughout the building, including Abraham Lincoln, of course, who stood tall at 6’4” in this life-size statue.
And Stephen A. Douglas, at 5’4” nicknamed the “Little Giant” because of his forceful and dominant position in politics.
Next, we visited the only house owned by Abraham Lincoln, and where he and his family lived from 1844 to 1861 before he became President.
Many of the furnishings were original to the house, so we saw horsehair-upholstered chairs and sofas that Mr. Lincoln actually sat in, as well as a small desk where he conducted personal and political business, and probably wrote some of his speeches.
Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln expanded the second floor of the house and built a master suite consisting of “His” and “Hers” bedrooms. It was considered a luxury for husband and wife to have their own rooms. Sorry, my picture of his room is a bit out of focus, but you can see the doorway into her room.
Mrs. Lincoln’s room was shared for a while with her two youngest sons, who slept on a trundle bed stored under her bed. When the oldest son Robert left for college, the two younger boys, Willie and Tad, moved into Robert’s room across the hall. Note the wallpaper and carpet in these bedrooms; they are reproductions of the originals – makes me question the decorating taste of the Lincolns!
The boys’ room.
The hired girl’s room. She was paid $1.50 per week, plus room and board, and was not a slave. It was one of the ways that young women (usually aged 14-15) were allowed to earn money and learn how to care for a family of their own.
The kitchen, tucked underneath the rear stairway, with a very large (original) wood stove, also a mark of luxury. It was noted that the size of the kitchen is approximately the size of the one-room log cabin Abraham Lincoln had come from. And from this house, he moved to the White House.
Finally, the rear view of the house and the backyard where the Lincoln boys played.