September 23, 2013 – Springfield, IL – Illinois State Capitol – Lincoln Homestead

After a relatively short drive, during which we were stone sober but still saw:

 We then found ourselves traveling between colorful expanses of soy, corn

 and “amber waves of grain”  enroute Springfield, Illinois.

we checked into our campground, grabbed a bit of lunch and headed for the downtown Springfield, stopping at the Visitor’s center where, not surprisingly, two statues of the state’s most famous son graced the grounds.

 After struggling to find a parking place, we visited our seventh State Capitol Building …

 

around which there were fourteen monuments recognizing the sacrifices of police, firemen and women, average workers and many people important in the state’s history.

and a replica of the Liberty Bell which seems to adorn the grounds of almost every state capitol.

The building is the sixth such statehouse in Illinois’ history.  Construction began on the sixth and current Illinois Capitol in 1868 after officials determined that more space was needed for government business.  The building took 20 years to complete at a cost $4.5 million ($105 million in today’s money).  The first legislative session in the new Capitol was held in 1877, but the structure wasn’t finished for another decade.  Of the six Illinois capitol buildings, only the last three survive.

 The most striking part of the building is its dome

The Illinois state capitol building’s dome is covered with zinc. Although the zinc was chosen for its shine and ability to withstand weathering, Illinois’ is the only current state capitol with a zinc dome.  Measuring 92.5 feet in diameter, its height is 361 feet above the ground, 405 feet to the top of the flag pole … making it the second highest domed state capitol in the United States.

The inside of the dome is decorated with colorful, detailed patterns and stained-glass windows.

Just below the dome are a series of plaster friezes above the corbel statues.  The frieze, which is considered by many to be some of the best artwork in the capitol, is painted to resemble bronze.  However, there is some doubt as to the chronological order of the panels and the events depicted in the scenes. 

At the center of the first floor rotunda is a magnificent sculpture of a woman with open arms entitled “Illinois Welcoming the World”, first displayed as the 1893 Colombian Exposition.

The second floor features multiple portraits and sculptures of famous Illinois politicians, including the likes of Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas.

  While the third floor is occupied by the Illinois House and Senate chambers,

Illinois House Chamber

Illinois Senate Chamber

Old Supreme Court Chamber (presently located across the street)

 a wonderful view is provided here of the grand staircase mural of George Rogers Clark negotiating with Native Americans at Fort Kansas in 1778.  Completed by German immigrant Gustav A. Fuchs and measuring 40’ x 20’, this is the largest painting in the Capitol.

 From the State House, we took a tour of Abraham Lincoln’s home.

 

Formal Parlor

Rear of the Formal Parlor and Couch where Lincoln received the news he’d been nominated by the Republican Party as its 1860 candidate for President

Family room

Lincoln’s Stereoscope (the mid-19th century version of today’s iPad)

The “original” Lincoln Bedroom

Exact reproduction of the original wallpaper in Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s Bedrooms

Lincoln’s original desk and chair

By the time the tour was over, it was too late to see more of the area’s historical sites, a good reason to plan on a return trip to Springfield.

On the way back to our car, however, we did pass a church

which caught our eye due to its “red” door.

Reading a plaque on the side of the building, we discovered it was the church in which the Lincoln family had its own pew.

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