Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Land of Lincoln - Lincoln's Home - 2

My Land of Lincoln posts were inspired by our April visit to Springfield, Illinois. Previous posts showed you Abraham Lincoln's permanent tomb and his first temporary tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery. We began the 3-part tour of Abraham Lincoln's home in a post last week that talked about the visitor center and his neighborhood.

We then entered Abraham Lincoln's home through the front door and saw the front hall/foyer, the parlor to the left, and the dining room. We'll pick up the tour today by beginning in the sitting room.

The sitting room is to your right as you enter the front door and can also be accessed from the dining room. The sitting room is where the boys played and the Lincoln family spent the majority of their family time. Here is a sketch showing how the sitting room appeared in early 1861.

The 1860's sketches helped to determine how the Lincoln home looked at the time they lived there. Some color choices may be considered a bit loud today, but Mary Lincoln's decor was fashionable in the mid-1800's - certainly not extravagant, however.

Although there are some items in the home documented as to have actually belonged to the family, most of the furnishings did not. When Abraham & Mary Lincoln moved to the White House, some of their household furnishings were given away, but most were sold at a private sale. The family who then rented the Lincoln home purchased several of their furniture pieces and took those items with them when they later moved to Chicago - only to be lost in the great Chicago fire of 1871.

Care has been taken to use period antiques and to replicate the Lincoln furnishings where possible. The original carpeting, window treatments and wallpaper no longer exist. Some window treatments and wallpaper you see in the home are replicas of the originals. Some are not reproductions, but are faithful to the period.

Did you notice the toy drum on the table in the last photo? The home is decorated for Christmas in December, and Lincoln family birthdays are also marked. The day following our visit would have been the birthday of Thomas "Tad" Lincoln - the youngest son of Abraham & Mary Lincoln. The drum represents a birthday gift Tad could have been given in 1860.

Oops! Here's another crooked candle that I really wanted to straighten!

None of the furniture in the sitting room looks very comfortable - especially for someone of Abraham Lincoln's height. No wonder he often chose to sit on the floor in this room.

The tour now heads upstairs via the staircase in the foyer.

At the top of the steps, there's a small sitting area in front of you, and the guest room is on your left.

The guest room is a large, comfortable room with green & white wallpaper and green blinds at the windows.

Their overnight guests had their own washstand and chamber pot.

That's Mary Lincoln's actual shawl on the fainting couch. The shawl makes seasonal appearances in the home.

Let's head across the hall into Abraham Lincoln's bedroom. The wallpaper in this room is an accurate reproduction. I zoomed in closely, as the beautiful blue is difficult to see in wider shots.

The next 3 items are said to have belonged to Mr. Lincoln - this wardrobe,

this bureau,

and this small desk in the corner.

Unfortunately, this isn't Abraham Lincoln's original bed,

but they believe this was his shaving mirror.

Here's a look back to the front of the room. You can see the small sitting area in the hallway.

Mary Lincoln's room adjoins her husband's room and has the same wallpaper.

Abraham & Mary Lincoln did not always have separate bedrooms. Separate bedrooms were a luxury one would acquire as finances made it possible.

The younger boys would sleep in their mother's room in a trundle bed until oldest son, Robert, moved out to further his education.

Our guide told us that Mary Lincoln would be horrified to know that tourists were making inquires about her chamber pot. Yes, I was the one who asked about it! This is a pretty great chamber pot, though. Don't you think?

Mary Lincoln suffered from migraine headaches, so I'm sure she often retreated to this pleasant, darkened room when she was feeling ill.

That concludes the second part of my Lincoln home tour. We'll see the rest of the upstairs, head back down to the kitchen, and out to the backyard in the final installment in this series.

All is well in the Keweenaw.


  1. How interesting, poor Mary with the whole world seeing her chamber pot!

    1. . . .and her privy! Times have sure changed. We now show our bathrooms to the world via social media.

  2. Another great historical post. I love the old patterns and furniture.

  3. I really enjoyed this tour of Lincolns home! It seems that people were so much smaller then. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. The average American man and woman was shorter in the Civil War era than today. Mary was 5'2", but Abe was 6'4". He probably wasn't comfortable seated on most of the furniture in their home. He obviously wouldn't have been able to fit his legs under that desk!

  4. How interesting to see the Victorian furnishings! Thanks for sharing at Sew It Cook It Craft It.


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