Lincoln Boyhood
Historic Resource Study
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Addendum To The National Register Of Historic Places Nomination Form For The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
NPS Form 10-900-a

United States Department of the Interior
National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places
Continuation Sheet
OMB No. 1024-0018

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Lincoln City, Spencer County, Indiana

7. Summary Description:

In the late nineteenth century, a portion of this property was set aside to commemorate the life of Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Additional parcels of land were acquired in the early to mid-twentieth century, bringing the property to its current size of approximately 428 acres. Also during this period, commemoration of Abraham Lincoln's boyhood in Indiana and his political career received increasing attention. Most of the property's extant resources date from this latter period.

The following architects and landscape architects were involved with designing various features at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial:

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and Donald Johnston Plaza/Highway (1930-1931)
Restored Forest (1930-1935)
Allee (1932-1934)
Edson Nott Trail of Twelve Stones (1933-1934)
Thomas Hibben and Edson Nott Cabin Site Memorial (1934-1935)
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and Richard Bishop Memorial Building (1938-1944)
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., Edson Nott, and Richard Bishop Memorial Court (1941-1944)

Historic Resources

In 1994, an updated inventory of historic resources on the property was undertaken. A number of the resources included in the inventory were either not specifically mentioned or were not described in the original National Register nomination. They are as follows:

1.) Culverts (1927-1931) — Dry-laid stone facing tile drains, throughout the property. Architect: Donald B. Johnston.

2.) Stone Pillars (1932-1938) — Mortared pillars with battered sides were installed near the state highway; these measured 8 feet in height and were 4 feet square. Similar pillars were located at the main parking lot, and measured 5 feet, three inches in height and were 3 feet square. Presently two of the pillars are extant at the park entrance along the state highway.

3.) Spencer County Memorial (1917) — Commemorated the location of the Lincoln cabin site. The eight-foot tall marker was installed in 1917 in the Lincoln City schoolyard. In 1934, it was relocated to the Trail of Twelve Stones when the present Cabin Site Memorial was constructed.

4.) Studebaker Marker (1879) — P.E. Studebaker, vice president of the Studebaker Corporation, donated a marble tombstone, which remains the official marker of Nancy Hanks Lincoln's grave. It stands approximately two feet in height on a marble base. The lancet-shaped monument is made of Italian marble and inscribed with "Nancy Hanks |Lincoln | Mother of President | Lincoln | Died Oct 5, A.D. 1818 | Aged 35 years | Erected by a friend of her martyred son 1879." Around this same time, local residents also raised money to install an ornamental iron fence around the graves of both Nancy Hanks Lincoln and Nancy Brooner. This fence has since been removed.

5.) Culver Stone (1902) — Originally located next to Nancy Hanks Lincoln's grave, it was relocated to the Trail of Twelve Stones in 1933. The marker measures 4 feet by 3 feet, 4 inches by 2 feet, three inches. It rests upon a stone base measuring 4 feet, 6 inches by 6 feet. The stone is inscribed as follows: "Nancy Hanks Lincoln | In Memoriam | This Stone from Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield, Illinois | was Presented by a Grateful People in Contribution to his | Mother."

6.) Lincoln Spring Marker (1961-1963) — This simple marker was installed by the National Park Service at the location of the spring that provided the Lincoln family with their fresh water supply.

7.) State Highway Right-of-Way Marker (1931-1933) — Located south of the entry road to the Memorial, this marker measures 1 foot tall and 4 inches thick.

8.) State Road Culvert (1850-1920) — Located on the original road alignment, this is a tile drain measuring 20 feet by 18 inches.

9.) Old Lincoln Trace — This road followed the township line between Carter and Clay townships. The highway was removed when the memorial was established as a state park during the 1930s, but the alignment still is visible through the reforested landscape.

Historic Landscape Design

The present appearance of the cultural landscape at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is due in large part to the efforts of a group of landscape architects and architects who completed a variety of projects at the site between the late 1920s and the 1940s. In 1927, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., developed a landscape plan for the memorial at the request of the managing agency, the Indiana Lincoln Union (ILU). Olmsted's plan designated a sacred space that he termed the "Sanctuary," which included the grave of Nancy Hanks Lincoln and the cabin site, both of which had been identified as a result of earlier preservation efforts (see Section 8). To clear this space of distractions, Olmsted called for the removal of most of the buildings associated with Lincoln City, as well as ornamental shrubs and other plants that had been placed around the grave, and decorative elements such as an iron fence with gilded statuary. His conceptual plan combined an allee, which would serve to frame the primary vista toward the hilltop cemetery, with a cross-axis created by a parking plaza and flagpole next to state highway 162, which was located south of the cemetery. This design is largely extant within the extant cultural landscape.

The ILU accepted Olmsted's plan, but hired landscape architect Donald Johnston to complete some modifications and supervise construction activities, which began in 1929. During this period, most of the buildings associated with Lincoln City were demolished, including the 1904 school house, a church, general store, hotel, and numerous residences. The streets and alleys were filled and graded and corrective measures were taken against eroded hillsides. Between the cemetery and the state highway, the existing topography was almost entirely regraded to its present configuration. Over 17,000 cubic yards of earth were moved during the course of the project. [1]

The extant stone walls were erected around the perimeter of the parking plaza, and stone pylons were erected along the highway. Four of the pylons remain extant and are located directly east of the parking plaza; these pylons flanked two unpaved parking areas (which are now revegetated). These two parking areas were not part of Olmsted's original plan, but were carried out under the direction of state landscape architect Edson Nott, who succeeded Johnston as the project manager. The parking areas were deliberately designed to appear like meadows when they were not in use. According to McEnaney, these areas, along with Olmsted's main parking plaza, created a sequence of open and enclosed spaces that created a transition between rural Spencer County and the formal landscape design at the memorial. Sequencing of open and enclosed spaces and large and small-scale outdoor spaces was a typical feature of late nineteenth and early twentieth century landscape designs. The approach originated in the English Landscape School in the mid-nineteenth century, but was adopted in the United States by pioneering landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing. [2]

The cemetery has not been significantly altered since Olmsted's plan was implemented. In 1944, the flagpole was moved from the plaza to a terrace directly south of the cemetery. In 1988, the original stone steps that provided access to the terrace were replaced and new iron handrails were installed. The terrace was accessed by a pair of trails that flanked the allee. At the top of the terrace stairs, the trails converge at the center of the terrace, an arrangement that appears to have been the work of Nott rather than Olmsted. A single gravel path provides a direct route to the flagpole (moved to its present location in 1944), and then continues to the cemetery. The allee itself has been virtually unaltered since it was completed in 1932, but for the size and condition of the flanking vegetation.

The vicinity of the plaza has witnessed several changes since Olmsted's plan was completed. The relocation of the state highway in 1964 resulted in the removal of the eastern vehicular entrance to the memorial and obliterated one of the two primary orientation points for the memorial. The symmetry and views down the east-west axis also were irrevocably altered, and the original cruciform arrangement was lost when the roadbed was removed and the corridor was revegetated. The plaza itself has seen few alterations, with all of the original stone walls and benches, walkways, and red oak trees intact. The island originally featured the flagpole (which was moved to the terrace in 1944), and its landscaping has been altered several times over the years.

Olmsted also suggested recreating a portion of the native forested landscape that would have been present at the time the Lincoln family settled in Spencer County in 1816. The forest was symbolic of the rugged character of the area during the pioneer period, and was the only aspect of the environment in which the Lincolns dwelt that could be "reproduced without sham or falsehood." [3] Almost 40,000 native trees and shrubs were planted between 1930 and 1935. Much of this reforested landscape is intact, although some plantings in the immediate vicinity of the allee have been revised over the years. Since the 1930s, efforts have continued to control invasive plant species and provide for the continued presence of native trees, shrubs, and plants.

The extant Trail of Twelve Stones was added in 1933-1934. Not a part of Olmsted's original plan, this feature instead was the concept of J. I. Holcomb, who served as president of the ILU. Edson Nott oversaw the trail's design and landscaping. The wooded trail served to link the cemetery to the cabin site, which had not been done previously. It also had an important symbolic function as an allegorical illustration of the different stages and events of Lincoln's life, including the tragic loss of his mother. The trail features a collection of stones taken from places that were associated with Lincoln, such as the building that housed his law office in Springfield, Illinois, and the White House. Each stone was placed upon a small base with a metal plaque that identified its origin. The displays were envisioned as small shrines to Lincoln, and stone benches were placed alongside several to provide visitors with an opportunity to rest and reflect. All of the stones are extant, but some are believed to have been moved from their original locations during the development of the Living History Farm in 1968. A number of stone culverts constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the mid-1930s are extant, along with some later (and unobtrusive) culverts and water bars. [4]

The cabin site memorial was the final component of the initial landscape development, but was not a part of Olmsted's original plan. Instead, like the Trail of Twelve Stones, it was undertaken at the behest of the ILU and was designed by architect Thomas Hibben, with Edson Nott again contributing some modifications. In 1934, the site was excavated by the CCC and hearthstones were uncovered about 18 inches below the existing grade. These were removed and were displayed in a steel and glass case at the site until 1946, when they were moved to the State Library Building in Indianapolis. The extant memorial consists of bronzed log sills and hearthstones enclosed by a limestone retaining wall. Flagstone walkways originally surrounded the perimeter of the retaining wall, but these were removed in 1968; the paths now are gravel with brick edging. A massive stone bench built by the CCC remains at the edge of the cabin site memorial, while the other benches were moved to the parking plaza over the years. [5] Development of the Living History Farm in 1968 resulted in the removal of a substantial amount of vegetation, thus irrevocably changing the viewshed from the cabin site memorial.

A second major construction phase began at the memorial with the erection of the Memorial Building and Court between 1938 and 1944. The ILU sought input on the building's design from Olmsted and Hibben, but state architect Edson Nott and National Park Service architect Richard Bishop were responsible for the final rendition. As originally constructed, it featured two memorial halls, one of which was dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and the other to Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and these were connected by a semi-circular cloister. The front (north) wall of the cloister featured a series of carved stone panels that depicted allegorical scenes related to Abraham Lincoln's life. According to McEnaney, Bishop and Nott created a hierarchy of spaces along the progression from the plaza, through the court, and into the halls and cloister. The Memorial Building project was completed in 1945 under Bishop's supervision. Based on plans drawn up by Nott, an extensive landscaping project around the Memorial Building was undertaken the following year. It included the installation of walkways around the building and planting of native shrubs and perennials. In 1965, the National Park Service decided to enclose the cloister's front (north) wall and added a wing to the south side to create a museum space and administrative offices. The alterations affected the linear relationship of the flagpole terrace, allee, and Memorial Building, and changed the cloister's function from that of a transition space to the primary indoor space for visitors. The court on the north side of the building was altered by the addition of a central walkway, which divided the space into four symmetrical planting beds. In 1979, the brick walls around the court were replaced with sandstone walls. [6]

Recent Alterations

The park's current overall appearance has seen few major changes since completion of the addition to the Memorial Building in the mid-1960s. In 1986, the iron gate that once marked the entrance to the park was removed from storage and placed at the east end of the plaza. The most recent alterations have included the replanting of the beds around the allee and removal of an isolated section of State Highway 162 in 1993. This removal included replanting the former east arm of the original cross-axial design with native trees. Several picnic tables were added to the space as well. [7]

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Last Updated: 19-Jan-2003