Our Day at Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Everything about Springfield, IL screams history. You can find most of Abraham Lincoln’s past life here, but beyond that, the city also boasts of classic eats and freaky ghost tales.
We recently paid a visit to the Springfield area, and after embarking on a fun itinerary of eating and learning history, we knew that our journey here wouldn’t be complete without visiting the home of the Lincolns. Mind you, the Lincoln family; Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd and their four children had lived here for close to 17 years. The house was initially purchased by Lincoln and his wife for the sum of $1200.
Later on, when the family grew in size, it was expanded from its original state to two stories with 12 rooms in 1855. Lincoln and his family later moved out to occupy the presidential office, but the house was then donated in 1887 for restoration and preservation.
Now, the home is dazzling in its 1860s look. Walking through the house is akin to getting a glimpse of the man behind the legend. The home contains original antiques belonging to the family – small family room chairs, a stovepipe hat belonging to Lincoln, stove belonging to his wife stereoscope that allowed the user see 3D images and even the original railing of the house. The tour guide made us believe touching the railing was akin to touching the hand of Lincoln.
If you love old style homes, then there are 13 other houses within a 4-block radius of the Old Lincoln House that has been restored to their early 19th-century look by the National Park Service. There are also small exhibits to view within them.
The oldest son of the Lincoln’s – Robert, was the donor of the home and he stipulated that tours be made free. However, tickets are needed to tour the home. You can pick them up early at a Visitor’s Center any later, and you might have to wait till the next day as tours fill up fast.
The bonus of the tour
If you have kids with you during your visit, then there is an excellent activity they can partake in. Kids are encouraged to earn Junior Ranger badges by completing specific tasks. The kids self-guide themselves as they undertake these tasks and, in the process, they get to explore the neighborhood of Lincoln deeply.
There are scavenger hunts, essay prompts, mazes, and learning opportunities (native plants, bits about Lincoln’s life and the underground railroad). My kids got the opportunity to be sworn in after completing their tasks by the local park ranger and wore their badges for the rest of our visit to Springfield, Illinois.
Imagine my surprise when we came along a real-life version of Abraham Lincoln. The 16th president of the United States of America was spotted walking through the streets of his hometown. When the kids saw him, they couldn’t believe their luck and ran to him for a photograph. So, be sure to keep an eye out.