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"History Comes Alive" This Week at Lincoln Home National Historic Site


Lincoln impersonator Fritz Klein interacts with visitors in front of the Lincoln home. NPS photo.

Abe Lincoln is roaming the streets of Springfield, Illinois, again, but if you want to see him, better hurry—his regular strolls in and around Lincoln Home National Historic Site will come to an end on August 15th.

The regular Lincoln sightings are part of "History Comes Alive," a great living history program that's been offered this summer at Lincoln Home. The special activities will run through August 15, so this would be a great time to enjoy the park.

The special programs have been funded by a grant from the Office of Tourism at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and they've allowed the park to really come to life this summer. According to a park spokesman, "the goal of this program is to transport visitors back in time to the Springfield that Abraham Lincoln knew and loved. In order to do this, the park collaborated with its many downtown Springfield historic site partners to create a series of living history activities that tell a complete story of Lincoln's life while he lived in Springfield."

Each day, visitors can play mid-19th century games, scrub clothes with a washboard, and listen to musical performances of Lincoln-era songs. Mr. Lincoln himself can be found walking around the neighborhood that he called home for 17 years.

The park used the grant money to hire five living history interpreters who present daily neighborhood tours, vignettes of historical figures that Lincoln knew, and period demonstrations, such as laundering, sewing, and playing games. The park also hired two singing troupes known as the Lincoln Troubadours to perform Lincoln-era songs.

One of the highlights of the living history program is the Saturday evening "Farewell to Springfield" parade. During the program, Lincoln impersonator Fritz Klein delivers Lincoln's farewell address on the front steps of the Lincoln home. Following the address, "Abraham Lincoln," park visitors, and the living history interpreters march from the Lincoln home to Illinois' Old State Capitol, where Lincoln delivers his first inaugural address.

"It's easy to be transported back in time with all of the activities going on in the neighborhood," says Tiffany Bowles, the park's living history coordinator. "Visitors are going home with some great memories of their time here at Lincoln Home."

Lincoln's home, the park's centerpiece, has been restored to its 1860s appearance, revealing Lincoln as a husband, father, politician, and President-elect. It stands in the midst of a four block historic neighborhood which the National Park Service is restoring so that the neighborhood, like the house, will appear much as Lincoln would have remembered it.

You'll find details about Lincoln Home and information to help you plan a visit on the park website.


Last November I enjoyed my first visit to Springfield, IL. I was in town for a Bible Conference and my best friend and I played tourist as well. One of my favorites besides the Presidential Museum was the Lincoln Home Site! I was transported back in time and I swore if I had closed my eyes, I would've heard horses hooves clopping along down the streets! Touring the Lincoln family home and the streets of his neighborhood was a thrill for this History buff! I highly recommend this National Historic Site to everyone!

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