Saturday, November 6, 2010

Springfield, Illinois

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Springfield, Illinois and took a motel for two nights, so that we wouldn't be rushed today. That turned out well, because there was lots to see.

First we visited the state capitol building. This is a view of the back, because that's where we parked the car. This is by far the most elaborate capitol building we have ever visited, and in my opinion the most beautiful.

Since it's Saturday there was minimal traffic around town, scads and scads of parking places, and not many people in the buildings. We had a good tour.

Again, there were spotless, gleaming marble
floors. The guide assured us that it was the result of constant effort.

The Senate chamber is simply stunning when you first see it. There are beautiful, gleaming chandeliers, and the walls and ceilings are very ornately decorated. Here is a sample, a view of some angels with golden trumpets, on the ceiling of the chamber. I have many more pictures of the details in the ceilings here and in the House and in the Supreme Court, too many to post.

There was a beautiful dome with stained glass atop the Senate Chamber and the House, but this is a view of the main dome. All of that glass was taken out, piece by piece, a few years ago, cleaned, restored and replaced in the dome. There is a protective roof over the dome, so it is illuminated, not by sunlight, but by artificial light. Originally there was a ring a gas lamps to light it. If you are ever in Springfield, do go visit this marvelous building.

We drove a few blocks over to the old capitol building. Illinois, like many other states, had some quarrels over where their capitol should be. It started in Kaskaskia, then moved to Decatur, where three successive capitols were built. And, during A. Lincoln's time it was moved to Springfield, a more central location. They immediately built this very adequate and quite lovely building to "solidify" their standing as the capitol.

This building, like so many others, has been restored.

Inside it is quite simple, but appealing. There were people working there in costume, explaining history of the building and historic persons. One fellow, whom
I really enjoyed listening to, couldn't stop talking about Abraham Lincoln. And he was very well informed.

This very interesting staircase occupies the center of that building.

There was a ceremony going on in the House chamber of this building, so we didn't see much of that, but could see the other rooms: plain but satisfying rooms, with their white walls, lovely woodwork and high

The man who loved Lincoln highly recommended the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library. This is a picture of the Museum.

We thought this museum was exceedingly well done.

When you enter through this circular space, you come into a lobby.

On the one side of the large circular space of the lobby is "Journey 1," the story of Lincoln's youth and eduation. He had just 3 months of formal schooling as a child, taught himself to read when he was six, and devoured every book he could get hold of. As an adult he went back to a one room school for another 6 months, for a total formal education of 9 months.

As a young man he went to Salem and worked as a clerk in a store. A surveyor wanted him as an apprentice, and loaned Abe two books, one the principles of surveying by Thomas Jefferson, and the other a book of math, geometry, and trigonometry. Within a very short time (like 2 months?) Abe had mastered all that information. Later he taught himself law and became a lawyer.

When you enter the log cabin, you are led through a series of spaces that portray the different times and events in his life. All very well done and interesting.

Across the lobby is the beginning of Journey 2, the White House and the years of his presidency, also very well done.

In addition to the two "journeys" there are two theatres, one with a wonderful show called "Through Lincoln's eyes" and the other showing the development and uses of the presidential library, called "Ghosts in the Library."

I cannot recommend this museum and these two shows highly enough. Not to be missed! We had a wonderful day!

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