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Home Illinois Sangamon County Springfield Historical Markers Old State Capitol

Old State Capitol

Springfield, IL , USA

Latitude & Longitude: 39° 48' 2.400012", -89° 38' 52.98"
  Illinois IL State Historical Marker
Illinois State
Historical Marker

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 politcal 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 unitl 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 three-year project was completed in 1969, when the building was opened to the public as a state historic site.

Last updated: 2/14/2015 15:17:00
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Old State Capitol Historical Marker Location Map, Springfield, Illinois Map