Abraham Lincoln owned just one home in his life, a wooden house on the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln lived in the home from 1844 until he departed for Washington as president elect in early 1861. The home is preserved today as the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and is administered by the National Park Service.
Lincoln was an Illinois state legislator and aspiring lawyer when he moved to Springfield in 1837. Married and with an expanding family. Lincoln purchased the 1 1/2 story six room house for $1200 in 1844. The previous owner was the Reverend Charles Dresser, who had married Abraham and Mary Lincoln in 1842. Lincoln became a very successful lawyer, and with it enough financial success that he was able to expand the home to two full stories and 12 rooms in 1855-56. While the home was by no means extravagant, it is typical of a home that a successful professional would own and was larger and nicer than the average Springfield, Illinois home of the 1850’s.
After he was elected president and the family left for Washington, Lincoln rented out the home. His son Robert continued to rent it out until he deeded the house to the State of Illinois in 1887, with the stipulation that it would always remain open to visitors free of charge. Ownership was transferred to the National Park Service in 1972.
Visitors wishing to go inside the Lincoln home must take a ranger led tour. Stop at the park visitor center and pick up a ticket for admission to a tour. True to Robert Lincoln’s stipulation, admission is free, the tickets are simply to have some control over how many visitors are let in at one time. Photography is permitted inside and out. There are a few items in the home that belonged to the Lincolns; most are period antiques similar to what the Lincolns owned. Carpeting and wallpaper are also similar in pattern to those that were in the home when the Lincolns lived there.
Visitors are instructed to not lean on walls or handle anything in the house to save wear and tear, with the exception of the handrail on the main stairway to the second floor. According to the ranger leading the tour, this is the same handrail Lincoln used when he went upstairs.
The Lincoln Home National Historic Site also preserves 13 other buildings in the neighborhood that date back to the mid 19th century. The Eighth and Jackson street area of the Lincoln Neighborhood is closed to vehicular traffic and visitors can see and walk through the neighborhood as it appeared to the future 16th President of the United States.
For more informantion, visit the National Park Service Lincoln Home website