Saturday, October 03, 2009


Yesterday we went to downtown Springfield to the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The museum was totally awesome. I had read about it enough to know it would be different from any other museum we had ever experienced and we were not disappointed.

The museum is an interactive one of sorts. There are a lot of wax figures of Abraham Lincoln and his family depicting lifesized memorable scenes from his life. There are two main sections. One begins at a log cabin and shows scenes from his early life. Very impressive. As you walk through, there are exhibits to read, but most often there are recordings of events that play in the background so you get a feel for what life was like as you watch and read.

The second section has to do with the White House years. Again, very impressive. One lifesize scene shows the bedroom where the Lincoln's son Willie lay in bed, suffering from typhoid fever which would take his life two weeks later. It was at a time when the Lincoln's were hosting a social event at the Executive Mansion and while they were at their son's bedside, you could hear the party noises in the background. The scenes basically placed you there during that time period. A lot of history was conferred upon the observer in each of the scenes placed before you. At the end of the White House years section, a room duplicating the room where Lincoln's body lay in state was recreated along with the casket and all the decorum that befitted the sitting President. It was as if you were experiencing the actual event.

The highlight of our tour was the "Ghosts of the Library" performance. We entered into a theatre to watch a presentation of how and why artifacts and knowledge are archived and kept for future generations. The narrator came out with a box of new artifacts he was going to begin cataloging. As he describes how artifacts can create memories, the air around him would fill with scenes from the Civil War and other times in history. At one point, the quill from the table flies into the air and starts writing. The presentation ends with the narrator donning a Civil War uniform and fading from the scene into the fight behind him. How cool. All holograms, but very entertaining.

You can read more about this scene and others in the library by going to the website. . .

As libraries go, we thought the admission of $10 was expensive, but it is a different museum from any we had ever experienced. It is just that. . . an experience. . . not a walk through. You would not be dissappointed.

After leaving the library, we found the Dana-Thomas house which is a Frank Lloyd Wright home. I like anything FLW, so we took the tour. Over 12,000 sq. ft. of living space and 16 levels in this house. Wow. It has an "entertainment" wing. The original house was an Italianate structure built by a man named Lawrence who made his fortune in silver. His only child, a daughter, inherited the house and 3 million dollars when he died. She had the house re-done, but only one original room remains, the rest of the house is new. Frank Lloyd Wright designed it as a "prairie" house, one that uses horizontal lines. It seems to go on forever. It is a typical FLW house. I love his designs because they are so unusual. There were multiple levels in the house, normally accessed by no more than 8 steps. The house was built primarily for entertaining the elite of Springfield and some parties numbered in the 3-400 guests. It was quite amazing and the house is well restored to the early 1900's when it was built. Another "don't miss" item if you like FLW.

Till next time. . .



Jim said...

Hi Dale and Terry,

We were in Springfield this weekend too (Thu-Sun). We were in for the 2009 Fall Illinois Heartland Owners Rally, held in Chatham at the Double J Campground.

Nancy and I love the Lincoln Museum. We have seen it 2 years in a row, so this trip, we spent a little time at the Library, Historic Union Station, the State of Illinois Museum and Lincoln's Tomb.

Great "almost" seeing you :)

Travel safe,

Jim Beletti

Dale said...

I wish we could have connected, Jim. It would be good to see you and Nancy again. We really enjoyed the Lincoln Museum and the Dana-Thomas house. Today we took a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi on the Mark Twain. Pretty cool.