Saturday, August 15, 2020


Marker Details

Historical Marker:

Old State Capitol

The marker is located in Springfield on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Adams Street. It is located on the grounds of the Old State Capitol State Historic Site.
Dedication Date:
Dedication By:
The Illinois State Historical Society and the Illinois Department of Transportation

Marker Description:
The Old State Capitol was the fifth statehouse in Illinois history. The building served as the capitol from 1839 to 1876. Its cornerstone was laid July 4, 1837, five months after the General Assembly passed legislation moving the state capitol from Vandalia to Springfield. The structure is a fine example of the then-popular Greek Revival style.

During the 1840's and 1850's the building dominated the public square and became a center of political and cultural life in Springfield. Dances, benefit dinners, auctions, and other civic affairs took place in its rooms. The legislative chambers, rotunda, and front steps were frequently the scene of political rallies and conventions. Concerts, lectures, and other cultural programs often accompanied legislative sessions, during which citizens from throughout Illinois made visits to the capital city.

Abraham Lincoln frequented the building from 1839 until he departed in 1861 to assume the presidency. As a lawyer, he practiced before the Illinois Supreme Court and made frequent use of the buildings two libraries. Representatives' Hall was the scene of several important Lincoln speeches, including the 1858 'House Divided' address, which opened his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate against Stephen A. Douglas. The 'Governor's Room' served as Lincoln's informal campaign headquarters during the 1860 presidential election. In 1865 citizens paid the assassinated President their last respects in Representatives' Hall before final services at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

In 1876, a new statehouse replaced the Old State Capitol, and the building became the Sangamon County Courthouse. Legislation passed in 1961 led to the state's purchase and reconstruction of the building to its Lincoln-era appearance. The tree-year project was completed in 1969, when the building was opened to the public as a state historic site.

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