Last updated: January 17, 2018
- Springfield, Illinois
- the Lincoln family's home for 17 years and the old home they would ever own
- National Historic Site
- OPEN TO PUBLIC:
Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois, was established in 1971 by Public Law 92-128 (85 Stat. 347). Lincoln Home National Historic Site protects and interprets the home where Abraham Lincoln lived with his family from 1844 to 1861. The park is in downtown Springfield and covers 12 acres over four square blocks.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site preserves 14 houses that date from the Lincoln era, including the Lincoln Home. There are 37 buildings in the park. The Lincoln Home neighborhood was diverse, representing many occupations and social and economic levels. Through neighborhood preservation and interpretive activities, the National Park Service seeks to recreate a vivid sense of the relationship of the Lincoln family to their neighbors and the broader Springfield community, enriching the experience of visitors at Lincoln Home National Historic Site.
From 1834 to 1842, Lincoln represented Sangamon County in the Illinois General Assembly and helped move the capital from Vandalia to Springfield. Lincoln and Mary Todd married in 1842 and in their first year together, the Lincolns lived in a hotel boarding house, the Globe Tavern. In 1844, Lincoln bought the home on the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets for $1,200 cash and a small lot worth $300. The young family, which now included Robert, born in 1843, lived on a tight budget. Lincoln himself chopped the wood, carried the water, and milked the cow.
When the family moved to Washington, DC, for Lincoln's presidency, the home was rented rather than sold and their best furniture placed in storage for their eventual return. But on April 15, 1865, an assassin’s bullet took the life of President Lincoln. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln caused a national outpouring of grief. His home became the focus for mourners and the photographers who recorded these early visitors. Mary Lincoln faced a lonely future and wrote that she “could not bear to return to the scenes of the happiest times in my life without my family.”
By the late 19th century, Lincoln’s home became a popular scene for rallies, ceremonies, and celebrations. The Lincoln Home remained rental property until Lincoln’s son, Robert, donated the home to the State of Illinois in 1887 to be protected and preserved for future generations. Robert Lincoln did so with the condition that the home remain well maintained and available to the public free of charge.
The home was designated a national historic landmark in 1960, and it remained the property of the State of Illinois until 1972, when it was transferred to the National Park Service. Property within the national historic site boundary was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a district in 1976. The national register district boundaries encompass a smaller area contained completely within the boundary of Lincoln Home National Historic Site.
Located in Sangamon County in west-central Illinois, Springfield is also where Mr. Lincoln was buried. As Lincoln’s reputation grew, his home became a powerful political symbol. Even today, presidents and presidential hopefuls make well-publicized pilgrimages to the home. There are a variety of visitor activities available at Lincoln Home National Historic Site