Last updated: January 11, 2024
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The Memorial Building at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park was constructed between 1909 and 1911 in an effort by the Lincoln Farm Association to commemorate the life and accomplishments of the sixteenth President of the United States and to protect what we now know as the Symbolic Birth Cabin.
The construction of the pink granite and marble building catapulted small Hodgenville, Kentucky, into the national limelight. The Lincoln Farm Association took donations large and small. A funding issue delayed construction of the building and only the foundation and cornerstone were ready for the centennial celebration of Lincoln’s birth on February 12, 1909. On that day, President Theodore
Roosevelt spoke of “this rail splitter … whose rise was by weary and painful labor, lived to lead his people through the burning flames of a struggle from which the nation emerged purified as by fire, born anew to a loftier life.” The construction continued for 2 more years and Architect John Russell Pope incorporated the architectural neoclassical style which earned him the label “Last of the Romans.” He included symbolism into the building as exhibited in the 16 rosettes on the ceiling to represent Lincoln’s place as the 16th president and 56 steps leading up to the building, one for each year of Lincoln’s life. The Memorial Building at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park was constructed 11 years before the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Once the building was finished, the symbolic birth cabin was reconstructed inside the Memorial Building. The building was dedicated by President William H. Taft on November 9, 1911, before an audience of 3,000 people.
Today the Memorial Building continues to fulfill its mission by housing and protecting the Symbolic Birth Cabin of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. Over 200,000 people a year come to Lincoln's birthplace to view the Memorial Building and the enshrined Symbolic Birth Cabin contained within.