"Drawing courtesy of State Historical Society"
THE LINCOLN HOME BEFORE IT WAS RAISED TO TWO STORIES---
Most Springfieldians are familiar with the history of the Lincoln home at 8th and Juackson, and certainly with the general appearance as a two-story dwelling. But when Mr. Lincoln acquired it from Rev. Charles Dresser in 1844, it was a plain, old-fashioned frame house a story and a half in height, albeit of excellent construction. No photograph of it in its original form is know to have been taken, but this artist's drawing by E. O. Fay is generally accepted as true to description. When it was built-in 1839-it was regarded as one of the pretentious residences of Springfield, and located on the outskirts of the town. The house was raised to two stories in 1856, and this tale of a surprise put over on her husband by Mrs. Lincoln was widely circulated in that connection: In the early day lawyers "on the circuit" went from one county to another on horseback, a journey often requiring several weeks. On returning from one of these trips, late one night, Mr. Lincoln dismounted at the familiar corner and then turned to go into the house, but stopped--for a perfectly unknown structure was before him. Surprised, and thinking there must be some mistake, he knocked at a neighbors door. The family had retired, and so called out: "Who's there?" "Abe Lincoln." was the reply. "I am looking for my house. I thought it was across the way, but now there's a two-story house in it's place. I think I must be lost." The neighbor then explained that Mrs. Lincoln had added another story during his absence. And Mr. Lincoln laughed and went to his remodeled house....A good story, but probably "folk lore," or possibly originating with Mr. Lincoln himself and reflecting his own vivid humor and imagination--since the remodeling job cost $1,300, almost as much as the original house, and would have required much more time than the story implied.
Submitted by: Jeanie Lowe