Regular readers of my blog know that I like to go on short road trips in July to visit historical sites. My mom and I call these our “Friday Field Trips.” Last year we went on four of these trips, and every one of them was a winner. This month I’m posting about two of these visits. Normally I don’t wait this long after one of my trips to share the details with you, but there are several reasons why you’re just now reading about my trip to Springfield. First, when I went on this trip, it was July and well…the lazy river at the local water park was calling my name! Also, I absolutely LOVE summer and I knew by February I’d be desperate for even a hint of that wonderful season. Also, February is both Lincoln’s birthday and Presidents Day so I thought this post would be well-timed. Let’s travel back in time to when the days were sunny and warm…
Abraham Lincoln’s Neighborhood
First stop – the Visitor Center! The weather that day was darn near perfect for July on the prairie! I was stylin’ my “Honey Hush” tee from Ruby’s Rubbish in case anyone even thought about giving me any trouble! LOL! Touring Lincoln’s home is free, but you need to pay for parking (cheap – $2 an hour) and you definitely need to book a time at the front desk in the Visitor Center. Only about 14 people at a time are allowed per tour, and tickets go quickly. Just tell them you want to go on the tour and they give you a ticket with your tour time on it.
We had some time to spare before our tour began so we walked the streets immediately surrounding Lincoln’s home. It is closed off to traffic and everything is restored (as much as possible) to how it would have looked in Lincoln’s time. Even the sidewalks were wooden! The area was so peaceful that it was hard to believe we were in the heart of Springfield, Illinois.
Our tour began right on time in the front elevation of the home. The building you see now didn’t start out this way. It began as a much smaller structure when the Lincolns moved in with their 9-month-old son, Robert. As Lincoln’s prosperity increased over the years, the family was able to expand the size of the house until it looked as you see it in the photo above. I was amazed to learn that 80% of the home is original, too. It was a bit surreal to realize I was seeing furniture and rooms that were actually used by Abraham Lincoln himself! My mom was surprised at how…shall we say, colorful, Mrs. Lincoln’s tastes were when it came to decorating. (Less charitable tourists might call it gaudy bordering on tacky.) Hey, that was the style back then.
Touring the Lincoln home doesn’t take very long. Afterward, we walked the 6 blocks or so to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Along the way, we passed the old state capitol for Illinois – another place where Lincoln worked before eventually becoming president. Just look at those blue skies! Doesn’t it make you long for summer? Sigh…
Unlike the Lincoln home, touring the museum will cost you some moolah – only $15 per adult. ($14 for my mom since she always makes me get the senior citizen discount for her. Okay, Mom!) The exhibits were life-size so you could walk through a very realistic replica of the log cabin where Lincoln was born. What a stark contrast to the home we had just recently toured! It made me appreciate just how far Lincoln had come in his life through hard work and perseverance in the face of difficulties – something I’m always preaching to my students.
With Presidents Day coming up, here are some resources you might find useful for teaching your students more about a man who, in my opinion, was our country’s greatest president. A man who led our country with humility and wisdom when we needed it most.
- Social Studies – Presidents (Pinterest Board)
- Abraham Lincoln Lesson
- Who Was Abraham Lincoln? (children’s book)
- Abraham Lincoln Timeline (printable)
Well, that’s it for this week? Do you plan to do any lessons with your students about Abraham Lincoln? Or did this post make you long for summer vacation?!