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When you visit Springfield, Illinois, no trip is complete without a visit to the Lincoln Home. This residence, the only home the Lincolns owned and the place where they spent the majority of their marriage, is a great place to bring the family as you explore the Lincoln attractions in Springfield. Lincoln’s neighborhood is now a historic site and part of the National Park Service. Plan for a couple of hours here; you won’t be sorry!
Lincoln Home Visitor Center
We arrived in the morning on our last day in Springfield. I highly recommend doing this attraction earlier in the trip, if possible, but our timing turned out to be a little off. No worries, though. We’d already been to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, and we’d done Lincoln’s Ghost Walk: Legends and Lore. In fact, we started our Lincoln adventure with a stop at his tomb. We’d even attended an ice cream social with Abe and Mary Todd, so yes, we did things a little out of order. It was still a great experience.
We like to arrive at opening if we can, and we were close to it. We parked in the parking lot provided and walked to the visitor center.
Admission is free, but you will need to reserve a time to tour the home and get a ticket. You also pay for parking, but at $2.00 an hour, it is really reasonable. We scheduled our tour and hit the gift shop for a magnet. You can also catch a short informative film and check out this display of Springfield and Lincoln’s neighborhood.
This was a cool display. We’d already learned on our ghost tour about how Abraham Lincoln walked to his law office from his home every day; it’s pretty amazing to think that you are walking in his footsteps.
When you’re finished at the visitor center, you can start exploring the neighborhood before you tour time. If time is short, plan to explore after the house tour. I like that the immediate neighborhood surrounding the house has been restored as much as possible to how it would’ve looked in the 1860s right before the Lincolns left for Washington.
On the day we visited, these reenactors were demonstrating laundry day in the 1860s. We learned about using blueing to get your whites white! Then it was time to hang the laundry out to dry.
The Dean House was right next to these ladies. It’s across the street from the Lincoln Home.
When you go inside, you can see models of the Lincoln Home. Here it is before the second floor was added.
And here is the home right before they left.
You can explore the neighborhood, but you aren’t able to enter the other houses. Some of them are offices for the National Park Service.
It’s pretty amazing to walk down the streets near where the Lincolns lived.
The Lincoln Home Tour Begins
When it’s time for your tour to start, you’ll meet your tour guide at a designated place with benches. After a brief introduction, you’ll be walking towards the house on the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets.
You can walk all around the neighborhood at any time, but you can only see inside the house with a ticket from the visitor center.
The tour continues at the entrance to the house. Once inside, you’ll see the formal parlor. On an awesome note–the home is air conditioned. This is especially nice on a hot July day.
Next, you’ll see the dining room.
I love how the rooms are decorated.
We saw the sitting room where the family would gather informally.
Lincoln bought the family a stereoscope, a device that allowed you to see pictures in 3-D. You can see it on this table in the sitting room.
We then went upstairs. I was excited about this because not every historic home allows you on the second floor. You’re encouraged by the docent to use the handrail as you climb the stairs, the very handrail Lincoln touched. How cool is that?
Upstairs in the Lincoln Home
Here is Mr. Lincoln’s bedroom. They did have separate rooms, but that wasn’t uncommon for the time and their status. She wasn’t far, though; her room is just a doorway away.
Here is his writing desk; you can see a top hat on the floor.
After passing through the doorway, you’ll be in Mary Todd Lincoln’s bedroom. Here is her vanity area.
Upstairs, the Lincoln boys also had a bedroom; the occupants of the room changed as the boys grew older. Robert left home to attend school at age 16, so the younger boys moved in when he left.
I also found it interesting that the Lincolns had hired help, and that person sometimes lived with them. They had several over the years ranging in age from 8-75. Here is the hired girl’s room.
At the end of the tour, we were able to see the kitchen.
I also like how this area is staged; it makes me feel like I’m part of American life in the 1850s and 1860s.
We exited the house out the back door. You can see the backyard of the Lincolns, the outhouse, and the stable. Jeff and I found it interesting that we’d never thought about where “city” people kept their transportation. When the transportation is horses, you have a stable in your backyard.
This tour is definitely a highlight of my travels across the country. I love learning history, and it’s amazing when you get to experience it firsthand. I know Kristin gets so much more out of immersive experiences like this. Whether you’re traveling with your family or on your own, the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, is worth a stop.