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The Old State Capitol is a reconstruction of Illinois’ fifth statehouse, the first to be located in Springfield. The building served as the seat of state government and a center of Illinois political life from 1839 to 1876. During the dramatic years leading to the Civil War, the building had an important role in the political struggle between Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861) and Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). Lincoln visited the building frequently as both a lawyer and a politician, serving in the building during his last term in the Illinois House of Representatives and delivering the famous 1858 “House Divided” speech in Representatives Hall, and using the governor’s rooms as a headquarters during the 1860 presidential campaign. The building was the scene of the assassinated President’s final laying-in-state on May 3-4, 1865.
The Greek Revival-style building was completely reconstructed in the 1960s. The first floor is composed of a central hall flanked by rooms interpreting government offices, two libraries, and the supreme courtroom.
A complex of first-floor rooms also provides an audiovisual theatre and staff offices. Recreated second floor spaces include a magnificent rotunda, legislative chambers, and smaller offices and meeting rooms. The building is located in the center of a large landscaped yard surrounded by a replica of the original 1850s ornamental iron fence. In 1961 the building was designated a National Historic Landmark and in 1966 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Visitors to the Old State Capitol may take a 30-minute interpreter-conducted tour or view the rooms on their own. Also available are a 15-minute orientation video on the building’s history. The building is fully accessible to persons with disabilities.
The Old State Capitol hosts or co-hosts a number of special events, including the “Abraham Lincoln Symposium” (February 12), “Holocaust Remembrance Day” in April, the Annual Civil War Encampment in June, and the "Old Capitol Art Fair." Many programs are supported by the Old State Capitol Foundation. Contact the site for details.