What made Abraham Lincoln’s house a home?

Image via NPS.

Image via NPS.

By Amy Eiduke, Communications Director

Abraham Lincoln is regarded as one of our history’s most influential and infamous leaders. And today, on his birthday, it seems appropriate to pay special homage to this great man. But, instead of reliving all of his great political feats, I wanted to know what made his house a home. Can you just imagine him eating dinner with his family or shooting the breeze with his neighbor or meeting with political figures in his parlor? All of this could have actually happened or perhaps he found other ways to create a safe haven for himself and his family. While we take a moment to speculate, here are a few interesting facts I uncovered:

  • Lincoln’s Springfield home was the only home that he ever owned. He bought it with some land for $1200 in 1844.
  • He lived in the house with his wife, Mary Todd L1212incoln, and his family until he was elected President in 1860.
  • The Lincoln home almost burned down two times. The first fire occurred over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday of 1854/1855. The second fire was the result of a lightning strike, which burned the roof near the north chimney
  • The home was originally one story but the Lincolns expanded it to a full two stories in 1856 to meet the needs of their growing family.
  • Three of the four Lincoln sons were born here, and one (Edward) died here in 1850 at nearly four years of age.
  • When Lincoln won the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination, he received a delegation of party officials in his parlor.
  • Mary Todd never returned to the family home in Springfield after the death of her husband. She instead lived in Chicago and Europe until returning to her sister’s house in Springfield later in life.
  • Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, donated the family home to the State of Illinois in 1887 under the condition that it would forever be well-maintained and open to the public at no charge.
  • President Richard Nixon signed the legislation authorizing the establishment of the Lincoln home as a National Historic Site using the same desk Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address.

Interested in learning more? You can visit his home in Springfield at any time. Admission is free, but tickets are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here to learn more.

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