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Architecture and the Presidents: Abraham Lincoln

Published February 12, 2013

 

Two of the greatest presidents in U.S. history were born in February - Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809-April 15, 1865) and George Washington (February 22, 1732-December 14, 1799). Today, we are focusing on Abraham Lincoln – and the architecture, house plans and designs throughout his life.


Lincoln in 100 Words or Less

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, was elected in 1860 and served until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln guided the country and preserved the Union during the American Civil War. He was "the Great Emancipator" who brought about the end of slavery. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation and two uplifting inaugural addresses are considered to be some of the greatest speeches ever delivered by an American politician.

 

Log Cabin Beginnings

Abraham Lincoln was born in a humble one-room log cabin in Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin, Kentucky. A replica of the cabin is now housed inside a stone memorial in his birthplace.The Lawyer and Illinois Statesman: Traditional & Greek Revival Style

 

Abraham Lincoln's log cabin

A restoration of Abraham Lincoln's one-room log cabin in Hardin, Kentucky.
(Photo credit: NPS Photo; National Park Service)


 

The Lawyer and Illinois Statesman: Traditional & Greek Revival Style


Abraham and Mary Lincoln and their family lived for 17 years at their home in Springfield, Illinois. A traditional house plan style often also described as a "Greek Revival" structure, the house and some land was sold to them in 1844 for $1,200 by Rev. Charles Dresser (who married them in 1842). To accommodate their growing family, the Lincolns expanded the house to two stories. They stayed at this home until Lincoln became President. The home at Eighth and Jackson Streets is open to the public and is a National Historic Site.

 

 

Before and after illustrations of the expansion of the Lincoln Home

Before and after illustrations of the Lincoln home showing the expansion.
(Photo credit NPS Photo, National Park Service)

 

 

Lincoln's Greek Revival Two-Story Home in Springfield at dusk

The Lincoln home today illuminated at dusk.
(Photo credit: NPS Photo; National Park Service)

 

 

The interior floor plans (first and second floors) for the Lincolns' house are above.
(Image credit: NPS Photo; National Park Service)


 

Lincoln as President: Federal Style Grandeur & Gothic Revival “Cottage”

The 16th President called the White House “home” from 1861 until his death in 1865. Unlike today, the White House in Lincoln’s day had an “open door policy” to the general public even during the war. Their days at the White House were also not without personal tragedy as their middle son, Willie, died there presumably of typhoid fever in 1862.
Lincoln White House

Illustration of the Lincoln White House dated 1860-1870
The President's House. Illustrates what the White House looked like during the Lincoln years.
(Image credit: Lithograph by E. Sachse & Co. dated 1860-1870 via Library of Congress)

 


To escape the White House – with its swarm of unwanted visitors and uncomfortable summer humidity – the Lincolns started staying in a Gothic Revival “cottage” on the grounds of Soldiers’ Home (an estate purchased by the government for retired and disabled veterans) just to the northeast of the White House. It was here that he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.
 

 Lincoln Cottage - Gothic Revival style - Washington DC

View of the Lincoln Cottage in Washington, DC as it stands today.
(Photo credit: Eric T Gunther under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons) 

 

Note: Lead image credit: NPS Photo; National Park Service

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