SECTION E: RECOMMENDED FURNISHINGS
Both the Leslie's Illustrated drawings and the surviving original Lincoln furniture show the Lincoln Home furnishings to be excellent examples of solid middle-class household goods at mid-century. Caroline Owsley Brown, in "Springfield Society Before the Civil War," described the furnishings of the more fashionable houses in Springfield:
The Lincoln house was furnished similarly but with slightly less expensive items. For example, Mrs. Lincoln purchased cotton damask for draperies rather than silk and the parlor furniture was mahogany and walnut rather than the more expensive rosewood.
The Lincoln furnishings in Springfield were not the most up-to-date styles; however, they were reflective of the major decorative trends at that time. The house contained a variety of late Empire style, Gothic, Rococo Revival, and Cottage style furniture. Some furniture appears to have been locally made while other furniture is characteristic of the early factory furniture exported from the east and larger urban centers, such as Cincinnati and St. Louis. For example, J. A. Hough advertised in the Illinois Daily Journal May 11, 1849:
Although Lincoln was able to purchase eastern furniture in Springfield, the selection would have been better in St. Louis or Cincinnati. Lincoln purchased carpeting in St. Louis and it is logical to assume he purchased other furnishings there as well. Indeed, according to advertisements by Springfield cabinetmakers, St. Louis cabinetmaking establishments were considered competition. For example, an advertisement by J. Hutchinson, January 2, 1850, in the Springfield Illinois Daily Journal read:
Another advertisement in 1857 showed that J. Hutchinson was still concerned with the competition from St. Louis. It read:
Thus the Lincoln home would most likely have contained furniture from Springfield and other cities. Locally manufactured furniture was made of native woods and in a variety of styles. In central Illinois, furniture was made of walnut, cherry, ash, and sycamore; and in northwest Illinois of maple, oak, birch, or pine. Betty Madden in Arts Crafts and Architecture in Early Illinois (Urbana, Chicago, London: University of Illinois Press, 1974) illustrates numerous examples of this Illinois-made furniture.
Section E of this Furnishing Plan is based on the surviving original Lincoln furnishings and period documentation. Where it has been necessary to fill in additional furniture, items have been added that correspond to the tastes reflected in the original furnishings. Placement and quantities of furniture are based largely on the Leslie's drawings, other period illustrations, such as paintings and prints, and household guidebooks--in particular Miss Leslie's Lady's House Book (Philadelphia, 1846), a copy of which Mrs. Lincoln owned. Miss Leslie's was a very popular household manual.
Although there do not seem to be many surviving records of the 1952-1955 restoration, refurnishing was comprehensive, and the majority of the furnishings now in the house are of an appropriate date and style for the Lincoln Home. Over the years, however, additional items have been acquired and in almost every room, according to recent research on furnishings, there are too many items. The changes recommended by this report will mean the elimination of many items.
Last Updated: 08-Feb-2004