Read about an excursion to another
state capitol: Frankfort, Kentucky
To The Islands
A Double Tribute
Spirit of Peoria
parents were always of the opinion that our family should see our own
country before we traveled outside of it to see the wonders of say, the
Eiffel Tower in Paris or perhaps the Pyramids of Egypt.
On numerous occasions, they (well, my father
anyway) tried in vain to get my sister and I to pile in the car and go to
places right here in Illinois... places like Springfield, for instance.
Fools that we were, we usually got pretty stubborn and took our chances that
we might be sent to our rooms without dinner... but we flat refused to
accommodate our parents' "requests". All these years later, I finally
agreed to go when my wife asked me to accompany her to check out an example
of what she considers to be to be one of the Seven Wonders of the world -- a
house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright -- in Springfield. I had heard
that the newly-constructed
Presidential Library and Museum were pretty awesome,
so I reluctantly agreed. I have to tell you that my reluctance was
ungrounded and that the trip was well
worth the time and effort.
Springfield is listed as only about 175
miles from Chicago, so I am certain that is is even closer to the western
suburbs. We left at about 9:00 in the morning and (we did not take the
direct route there), after a couple of stops along the way -- including one
for breakfast -- we were cruising into the parking garage a block away from
the Lincoln Museum at about 2:30 in the afternoon. It is, by the way,
a very easy drive. When driving, Spring Break never seems to be a
really great time to go anywhere, since everyone seems to be driving
somewhere at that particular time. Having said that though, when
choosing a destination like Springfield, it probably doesn't make a whole
lot of difference, since there are many things to see there, and the
recently completed Lincoln Museum makes Springfield an even better
The tickets for the Museum are only $7.50 for adults (16
- 61 years of age),$5.50 for seniors (62 years of age and up) and $3.50 for
children (5 - 15 years of age); entry to the Lincoln Presidential Library is
free. While there is not much to see in the Library -- it is used
mainly for research -- there are frequent exhibitions that are worth the
visit. The main "attraction" as it were, is the Lincoln Museum.
We spent approximately an hour and a half touring and viewing the two main
sections titled "Journey I" and "Journey II", chronicling respectively Mr.
Lincoln's childhood and rise to office, and his presidency - with much
attention paid to the Civil War. There are also two theaters with
short presentations to watch, and the obligatory gift shop... through which
one must pass in order to exit the museum.
I will leave descriptions and editorial
comments out of the article, except for one thing. Make certain that
you take the time necessary to view the video -- in the Journey II exhibit
-- "Four Years in Four Minutes". Detailing, at he rate of 1 week per 1
second, the loss of life during the Civil War, it is perhaps the most moving
and emotionally draining piece of video that I have yet seen.
If you can leave that room without at least a few tears in your eyes, you
have ice water instead of blood running through your veins. The
re-created figures in the other exhibits are incredibly life-like and the
exhibits themselves are extremely well done.
We could have spent longer in the museum,
but chose instead to leave after the two "Journeys", since we had other
things to attend to, and the museum was closing at 5:00pm. Had we
visited on a Wednesday, we
would have found that the museum is open until 8:30pm and could have taken a
more leisurely tour. We left the museum parking lot and headed to our
Hampton Inn & Suites ), which was located on the southwest side
of the city and only about ten minutes form the center of town. Had we
taken a bit more time to plan, we probably would have chosen to stay at the
Hilton Springfield right in the heart of downtown, to avoid the extra driving. As
it was, the drive to our hotel was a quick one. It gave us plenty of
time to check in, shower, and head back to the downtown Hilton -- our chosen
location for dinner. I have been to Springfield previously on
business, but for some reason had never been to the top of the Hilton, from
which the view is incredible. There is also a very fine restaurant
there called Capiche?. (No, it is not a typo... the question
mark is purposely placed at the end of the restaurant's name.) We
watched the setting sun and enjoyed an excellent dinner there.
The following morning, our selected
destination was the
Dana-Thomas House, an incredibly well preserved and
exquisite example of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. Located on the
corner of 4th and Lawrence Streets, the house is just blocks from the
capitol and minutes from downtown -- easily within walking distance of the
museum in good weather. The building itself is over 12,00 square feet
and nothing short of remarkable in every way. The tour requests a mere
$3 donation and typically lasts about an hour. Our small group
consisted of only eight people, and I was delighted that our tour lasted
almost an hour and a half. This is a must-see venue if
you are planning a trip to Springfield... with one small codicil: it is
probably best not to bring those who are under high school age along, unless
they are really into architecture and/or Frank Lloyd Wright. Click
additional information about this and other Wright houses.
There are numerous other places to visit
while in Springfield, such as the State Capitol building, the Lincoln Home,
Lincoln's Tomb, the Executive Mansion, the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon and
the Lincoln Depot, just to mention a few. Plan on staying a couple of
nights to ensure enough time to take in all the sights. Springfield is
a great destination for the whole family; there is plenty of affordable
lodging and dining and much to do and see. Take some time to
experience a bit of history... just don't wait as long as I did!
about another excursion in which we take the Amtrak train from Chicago to
Springfield on our way to St Louis, MO.