An Illinois Building that Watched History

The Old State Capitol is firmly rooted in Illinois, with its local, eye-catching limestone, but it has watched scenes of national significance unfold. Built in 1839, the Old State Capitol is across the street from President Lincoln’s law office. It is where President Lincoln gave his “House Divided” speech and headquartered his presidential campaign. After Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, it was the location of Lincoln’s lying-in-state. 142 years later, President Obama announced his presidential campaign from the Old State Capitol’s steps.

Springfield’s population boomed following the Civil War, resulting in the building of a new capitol in 1868. The Old State Capitol was reconstructed in the 1960s and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. It is accessible today to visitors. You may decide to take a look around the reconstructed interior, but the Old State Capitol’s mottled limestone exterior and the history that has happened between its walls are what call for a second glance as you walk along the replica 1850s fence on your way to the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Sources and Further Reading:

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources on the Old State Capitol.

Get all the Lincoln details at Abraham Lincoln Online. Then check out my Lincoln series:

Really want to dig in? You can read the National Register nomination form for the Old State Capitol here.


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