Old State Capitol in Springfield reopens to tours

The Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where a young politician named Abraham Lincoln served in the state Legislature and delivered his “House Divided” speech, reopened to tours last week after months of interior renovations.

The Associated Press reports exterior work on the Capitol’s dome is continuing, but indoor work on plaster and painting was finished, allowing the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to open it for tours last Thursday.

Work began in March and was expected to last only a few weeks. But the $1.5 million project encountered unexpected delays, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Old State Capitol is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. A mask policy and distancing requirements are part of the free tours.

The building served as the Illinois capitol from 1840 to 1876. It was restored during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. It also was where Barack Obama launched his ultimately successful presidential campaign.

Here’s a documentary about the building’s historical significance:

The Old State Capitol sits in what now is Springfield’s downtown square, It has been the centerpiece of the city’s annual Illinois Route 66 Mother Road Festival.

North Sixth Street, an early alignment of Route 66, also runs right by the building.

(Image of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, undergoing repairs in September 2021 by Randy von Liski via Flickr)

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