Archeological Testing at the Carrigan and Burch Properties,
Lincoln Home NHS, May 2006
The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield,
Illinois was established to commemorate the life and
work of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and to preserve
his home at Eighth and Jackson Streets and the surrounding
neighborhood. Abraham and Mary Lincoln purchased the
house in 1844 and lived there until February 1861, when
they moved to Washington, D.C. following Lincoln’s
election to the presidency. While the Lincoln Home itself
has been well maintained over the years, many of the
other original houses in the neighborhood are now gone,
including the house immediately next door to the north
(Carrigan house) and the house directly across Eighth
Street to the west (Burch house).
The Midwest Archeological Center recently completed
archeological test excavations at the Carrigan and Burch
properties as part of a larger effort to research the
history and appearance of the Carrigan and Burch houses,
which may be reconstructed in the next several years.
Multiple episodes of building construction, modification,
adaptive reuse, repair, and demolition have taken place
at the two properties over the past 150 years, resulting
in an archeological record that is complicated, particularly
at Carrigan. The Carrigan house was built around 1840
and enlarged several times in subsequent years. It was
replaced by the Irwin house around 1880, which in turn
was demolished in the early 1920s. The lot then apparently
remained vacant until the 1960s, when the nearby Corneau
house was temporarily moved to this property.
Several sections of the original Carrigan house foundations,
front and back cellars, a cistern, and other associated
architectural features have now been identified archeologically
at the site. Interestingly, it appears that the back
portion of the Carrigan house was adaptively reused
as part of the later Irwin house. Historic photographs
indicate that the Carrigan barn stood in the southeast
corner of the lot, an area now largely covered by a
modern building and concrete pad. However, the northwest
corner of the barn is thought to have extended a short
distance into the present open yard. A cluster of deteriorated
brick fragments partially exposed at that location during
testing may represent the remains of the barn foundation.
The Burch house was constructed in the 1840s and stood
until 1916-1917. A commercial building was then constructed
on the front half of the property and later enlarged.
A two-story apartment building was also constructed
on the rear of the property in the early 20th century.
Unfortunately, little evidence of the original Burch
house has survived. Two short sections of the Burch
house foundation have been identified archeologically,
together with the remains of two chimney bases or supports,
an interior well, and the bottom portion of a cistern.