Springfield in one day

State Capitol building Old State Capitol building Sundial at the back of the State Capitol

First impression

We spent a winter weekend in Springfield and the town seemed to be deserted. One could see only few people on the streets. However, most of the museums and restaurants had people visiting them. Downtown of Springfield is nice and relatively small. All major attractions are available within a walking distance. If you decide to stay in a hotel in the downtown area you will not need a car. Taking train to Springfield and staying in downtown area seems also like a good idea. Although the town seemed deserted, museums and restaurants were all open. Downtown does not have many shops and most of the interesting things in Springfield can be seen in one day.

Old State Capitol

Old State Capitol is very well preserved and all open rooms are equipped with furnitures from the middle of XIX century. One can follow a tour or walk around without a guide. Walking around the Old State Capitol you will see how compact and well organized was the Capitol more than 160 years ago. You will notice there equivalents of all major modern state institutions.

Old State Capitol, Springfield, Illinois.  
From the information placed at the Old Capitol:
Old State Capitol

The Old State Capitol was the fifth State House in Illinois history. The building served as capitol from 1839 to 1876. Its cornerstone was laid during ceremonies held July 4. 1837.

During the 1840s and 1850s the building dominated Springfield's square and became a center of public life. Benefit dinners and other civic affairs took place in its rooms. The legislative chambers were the scene of frequent political meetings. Cultural programs often accompanied legislative sessions, which attracted citizens from throughout Illinois to the capitol city.

Abraham Lincoln frequented the building from 1839 until he departed in 1861 to assume the presidency. As a lawyer he often practiced before the Illinois Supreme Court. Lincoln delivered several important speeches, including the 1858 "House divided" address. In representatives' hall the governor's room served as his informal headquarters during the 1960 presidential campaign. In 1965 citizens paid their last respects to the assassinated president in representatives' hall before burial at Oak Ridge cemetery.

In 1876, a new State House replaced the Old State Capitol, which became the Sangamon County Courthouse. Legislation passed in 1961 led to the state's purchase and reconstruction of the building to its Lincoln-era appearance. The three-year project was completed in 1969.

Erected by The Illinois State Historical Society
and The Illinois Department of Transportation, 1991

Inside of the Old State Capitol

State Capitol

New State Capitol contrary to the Old State Capitol is not very inviting. We were trying to get there twice, both times with no success. Building is very impressive from outside but just after you enter the building, security informs you that "one can not walk around by yourself" and that one has to wait for guided tour. In front of the Capitol there is a large statue of Abraham Lincoln and on the back a very nice sundial (on the picture above).  The current Capitol building is the sixth Capitol in the history of Illinois and the second one in Springfield. First Capitol was built in Springfield after Abraham Lincoln and his colleges advocated for moving the capitol of Illinois from Vandalia to Springfield. Old Capitol has been turned into a museum. 

Springfield, State Capitol

Lincoln's Museum

Springfield has quite many museums for its size. One that is definitely worth visiting is the Abraham Lincoln Museum connected to the Presidential Library. Museum is very modern and extremely  multimedial. It pictures life of Abraham Lincoln from his childhood, through first jobs, his time in Springfield and work as a lawyer to his presidency and assassination. Museum collected an impressive number of items related to Abraham Lincoln. It takes more than an hour to walk through the whole museum. At the end, one should definitely stay for the impressive multimedial presentation of the museum and the presidential library.

Lincoln's Museum from outside Abraham Lincoln with family Lincoln's wife

Lincoln's House

Old part of Springfield including whole neighborhood of Lincoln's House has been turned into a museum. Guided tours are available for visiting Lincoln's House and the Old Downtown.

Abraham Lincoln's House in Springfield

Lincoln's Tomb

Visiting Springfield one cannot miss the Lincolns Tomb. It is located in Oak Ridge Cemetery and it is a very impressive monument. The Tomb is closed during the winter. However, outside of the Tomb is also very interesting. The Oak Ridge Cemetery has more interesting graves and tombs. The cemetery is quite large and at its very end one will find war memorials.  

Lincoln's Tomb

Springfield by night

After a whole day of sightseeing you may want to relax over a nice dinner or a drink. The downtown area is full of nice restaurants. Most of them offer American food and it may be harder to quickly find an oriental kitchen. Although there is a lot of bars around, the most fun seems to be the top of the Hilton hotel. Hilton on its 30th floor has a bar and a restaurant. Both of them have stunning views over the panorama of Springfield with nicely illuminated Capitols. 

View from the bar on the top of Hilton hotel State Capitol

Other attractions

Springfield Museums center including 
  • Michele & Donald D'amour Museum of Fine Arts 
  • Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History 
  • George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum
  • Springfield Science Museum 
  • Connecticut Valley Historical Museum 
List of all historic sites in Springfield: Historic Sites Commission of Springfield, IL
Frank Lloyd Wright designed Dana-Thomas House [Official site]
 Oak Ridge Cemetery
 Museum of Funeral Customs (closed in 2009)

See also:
Frank Lloyd Wright House in Springfield
Hot air ballons show in Indiana
Frank Lloyd Wright House in Chicago
Honeymoon in Alaska - Part 1
The largest earthquake and tsunami in North America


scott davidson said...

Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from wahooart.com, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT7K6

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