Old State Capitol State Historic Site
6th & Adams Streets
Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, 62701
Photo: License: Public Domain
The Old State Capitol State Historic Site, in Springfield, Illinois, is the fifth capitol building built for the U.S. state of Illinois. It was built in the Greek Revival style in 1837–1840, and served as the state house from 1840 to 1876.
The Old State Capitol in Springfield Illinois is a reconstruction of the 5th State House. In 1966 it was torn down and meticulously reconstructed during the Civil Rights era.
From 1820 through 1837, the political capital of the young state of Illinois was the small village of Vandalia, Illinois. A caucus of nine Illinois lawmakers, including the young Whig Party lawyer Abraham Lincoln, led the effort to have the capital moved to the Sangamon County village of Springfield. Their efforts were successful in 1837, when the Illinois General Assembly passed a law creating a two-year transition period with the goal of moving the capital to Springfield in 1839.
It was in this building that Lincoln served his final term as a state lawmaker in 1840–41.
As a result of economic growth spurred by the American Civil War and consequent industrialization, this fifth or Old State Capitol was, by the 1870s, too small to serve the purpose for which it had been built.
From 1876 until 1966, the Old State Capitol was the county courthouse of Sangamon County. In 1898-1899, Sangamon County raised the historic structure 11 feet (3 meters), added a third floor under it, and demolished and reconfigured the interior to hold circuit court rooms and office space.
In the early 1960s, the Civil War centennial rekindled interest in the historic central Springfield structure. In addition, Sangamon County's space needs had grown so urgent as to require the county to build for itself an entirely new courthouse building.
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