Because this year marks the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, there are commemorations and celebrations of
We began with a visit to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site,
where a whole block of
We were lucky to arrive on a Tuesday, because at 7 p.m. every Tuesday evening, Union troop re-enactors have a big ceremony retiring the colors at
The next day we visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the largest and most highly visited of all our nation's Presidential libraries/museums. The Museum is a sensory overload multi-media presentation of
Probably the reason we don't remember the real stuff too well is because the fake stuff was so overwhelming. There was a presentation called "Ghosts in the Library" that featured a real actor on stage holding real items from the Presidential Library, while special effects ghosts came out of them. Another multi-media theatre presentation had strobe lights and seats that shook and smoke that came into the theatre during the war scenes. One room was a television studio with multiple monitors, inviting you to watch the taping of Tim Russert analyzing the four candidates running for President during
and it has nothing to do with Abraham Lincoln. The Dana-Thomas House is, according to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, "the best preserved and most complete of Frank Lloyd Wright's early Prairie houses." Susan Lawrence Dana, a socialite activist, commissioned Wright to build the house around a 30 year old Italianate brick house she inherited from her father. By the time Wright was done in 1904, the Italianate house could hardly be found beneath all the frosting. The house cost just $60,000 to build, according to the film we saw before our tour. This price is just incomprehensible to us—in addition to being huge, the house has 250 art glass windows, doors and light panels—there isn't a plain pane of glass in the whole place. There are over 100 pieces of furniture Wright designed for the house (fortunately, when they tried to sell the furniture at auction to settle the estate, for less than $1 a piece, hardly anyone bid on it, so they returned it to the house in the hope that selling it partly furnished would help the sale). It cost the state $1,000,000 to buy the house and $5,000,000 to renovate it in the 1980s.
We agreed that this house was designed by a show-off for a show-off. The living spaces alternate from dark enclosed areas to massive two story tall rooms with vaulted ceilings and lots of windows. The dining room and an adjacent living room have connected balconies for musicians. There is one window made just to allow a two story tall Christmas tree to be brought into a large reception area.
There is scarcely an unadorned surface inside or out.
As if the house wasn't interesting enough, Susan Dana had a fascinating story herself. She was an often disappointed and disillusioned equal rights crusader, and a spiritual seeker who dabbled in mystical faiths and had her own church in her house for a time.
We could have spent more time in Springfield—there were plenty of other sights to see, but we decided to be on our way down old Route 66 to see what other interesting adventures awaited us in smaller towns.