Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, which makes tomorrow his 200th birthday. Historic organizations in Washington, DC, his home state of Illinois, his birth state of Kentucky, and across the country are preparing celebrations for this bicentennial. You can check out the complete events calendar, along with all of the Lincoln info and links you’d ever want, at the Lincoln Bicentennial Hub Website. If you’re looking for more, the new Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois, hosts a great site, too.
Here at the Historic House Blog, we’re pretty excited about the Lincoln hoopla, too, and we’re celebrating by highlighting some historic homes for sale in the places familiar to our 16th President:
Hodgenville, Kentucky: It was here, at Sinking Spring Farm, that Lincoln was born in 1809. At the time, this part of Kentucky was a pretty raw wilderness and settlers and farmsteads were few and far between. Lincoln’s parents eked out a hardscrabble existence for a few years before moving on to Indiana in 1816. Little is left from the Lincoln era in Kentucky. The Lincoln Birthplace cabin is enshrined at the Lincoln Birthplace Memorial in Hodgenville, although it isn’t likely that much, if any, of the cabin is authentic (Tree-ring dating sets the earliest logs being felled around 1848)
If not much is left in Hodgenville from Lincoln’s time, you can still own a very impressive historic home there. This National Register home is a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1892 for local businessman William Miller. The house has been the subject of an extensive restoration, including exterior painting in a custom historic color scheme. The 3,438 sf home offers 11′ ceilings, beautiful hardwood floors, 12″ baseboards, working transoms, and natural woodwork throughout. The house is listed at $199,900 and offered by Kurt Krug at Goldmark Realtors. More details available here.
Petersburg, Illinois: In 1831, at age 22, Lincoln left his father’s home and settled in New Salem, a village outside of Petersburg, where he ran a general store. He lived here for 7 years, during which time he was elected to the state legislature and got his first taste of politics. Today, the New Salem State Historic Site is a reproduction of the village, although only one of the buildings is original to Lincoln’s time.
As is true in Hodgenville, few houses remain in Petersburg from the time of Lincoln’s residence, but this spectacular brick Italianate was built just a few years after Lincoln’s death. This showplace home is one of the finest in Petersburg’s historic “Piety Hill” neighborhood and is listed on the historic register. It can be yours for $264,900. Check here for more information and photos.
Springfield, Illinois: Lincoln came to Springfield in 1837, looking for opportunity in the state’s small, but growing, state capital. It is here that Lincoln developed his law practice, married his wife and started a family, and rose to prominence in national politics. The Lincoln Home at the corner of 8th and Jackson is the only house that Lincoln ever owned, having purchased it in 1844 for $1500. Today the Lincoln Home and the surrounding four blocks have been restored to their 1860 appearance, and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site is open to the public.
Unlike in Hodgenville and Petersburg, many homes from the Lincoln era still remain. Many are part of the National Park and have been meticulously restored. There are several other restored houses around the city associated with Lincoln’s law partners and political supporters. There are, however, many Lincoln era buildings that have fallen into disrepair and are in danger of demolition. The Springfield Historic Sites Commission maintains a list of Lincoln-era homes and has about 100 on the list. Their website also features a great photo gallery of some of the best historic structures in Springfield. Many of the houses on the list, but not featured in the photo gallery, are struggling to survive. One couple has taken on saving the 1855 Maisenbacher house by moving it to the Lincoln neighborhood. Check out more details of their story here. As of this posting, none of the 100 Lincoln-era homes in Springfield are currently for sale.
Jonesboro, Illinois: In 1858, Lincoln engaged Senator Stephen Douglas in a famous series of debates leading up to the Senate election. Lincoln lost the election, but the debates catapulted him to national prominence within the Republican party, setting the stage for his election to the presidency two years later. One of the debates took place in Jonesboro, illinois, and one Realtor there is capitalizing on this bicentennial year by connecting his 1937 listing to Lincoln’s presence at the debate- In Kraatz Realty Bill Bailey’s words:
A true mix of old and new… In 1858 Abraham Lincoln, on his way to debate Stephen Douglas for a US Senate Seat, walked directly in front of where this home was to be built. The 70 year-old home sits two blocks from both the town square where Lincoln watched Donati’s Comet and the fairgrounds where the debate was held, now the Lincoln Memorial Park, a part of the Shawnee National Forest picnic area….the large double corner lot with fenced back yard has many shrubs and mature trees….Burning bushes greet you at the front walk which has the footprints of Lincoln, matched by size and stride, showing his pathway to the debate.
You, too, can walk in Lincoln’s footsteps in Jonesboro Illinois- This house is available for $199,900. …And, if you’re selling a house in Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, or even Washington DC, you might want to think about how you can tap into the Lincoln bicentennial excitement and interest to give your property that extra edge !