Almost all the states have had more than one capitol building, but very few have both the old and the new in the same city. Illinois is one of those states. The sixth and present capitol was started in 1868 and completed 20 years later. It replaced the building that was built between 1837 and 1853.
The present capitol building is built in the French Renaissance style. The dome at 361 feet is the tallest domed state capitol in the country and is even taller than the the U.S. capitol. The statue of Lincoln in front of the building is one of many statues and paintings of the first president from the state.
The first floor of the rotunda has a statue by Julia Bracken that represents the welcoming of people to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
The dome is very impressive with the center stained glass representation of the state seal made from 9,000 pieces of glass. When the building opened, the dome was illuminated with 144 gas lights. The carbon soon turned it black and it was hidden until it was cleaned in 1986, 100 years after it was built.
Under the dome are plaster relief panels that are painted to look like metal. They represent Illinois history from Native Americans to the 1858 Lincoln - Douglas debates (pictured here). The debates were in 1858 when Lincoln ran for and lost the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Douglas. Pictures and statues of Lincoln's political foe Stephen Douglas are second only to Lincoln's in the building.
On the second floor of the rotunda are eight statues of famous state legislators and of course there is Honest Abe Lincoln and The Little Giant (5"4") Douglas. In addition to running against each other in 1858, Douglas was one of four candidates who ran for president in 1860 along with Lincoln.
The Illinois House gallery with crystal chandeliers. There are 118 representatives in the House....
......And of course portraits of Douglas and Lincoln. The members sit on the side with the portraits of their famous political leaders, Democrats on the left with Douglas and Republicans on the right with Lincoln.
The state Senate chamber where the 59 state senators meet. President Obama served in this chamber when he was an Illinois state senator.
This 20' X 40' painting shows the signing of a treaty between George Rogers Clark and Native Americans at Fort Kaskaskia in 1778.
The governor's reception room is used for ceremonial bill signings. Of course it has a painting of the Lincoln - Douglas debate.
Some of the statues in the area of the capitol and on the grounds is one honoring coal miners, another honors workers killed or injured on the job and one of Martin Luther King. As you will expect after reading this post, you know there are also statues of Lincoln and Douglas on the grounds.
The Illinois capitol is another impressive building well worth a visit. We hope your tour, unlike ours, will not be with a large group of fourth graders:)
Also in Springfield is the fifth Illinois capitol that was built in the Greek Revival style. When it was built it was the largest capitol on what was then the American frontier. After the new capitol was built this one was used as a county courthouse.
The House chamber is where Lincoln served when he was a representative from 1834 to 1842. It was here that he gave his House Divided speech.
After he was assassinated he was laid in state here before his burial at Oak Ridge Cemetery.
The old senate chamber. The old state capitol is well worth a visit to walk the halls where Lincoln started his service to the country.