Next week, Illinois’ favorite native son finally turns 200.
After days, months, and even years of planning and preparing, Springfield residents will tip their hats to the 16th president in a weeklong celebration of his life and legacy. The party kicks off Feb. 6 with the opening performance of Our American Cousin, the play Abraham Lincoln attended the night he was shot in Ford’s Theatre.
Throughout the week, songbirds can witness musical tributes, such as “Amazing Grace: A Time of Spirituals,” and bookworms can mingle with noted Lincoln scholars and authors at various panels and events surrounding such topics as Lincoln’s legal career, marriage, leadership skills, and his effect on the civil rights moment.
Children and families can join in the fun at “Springfield’s Farewell to Lincoln,” a kid-friendly production at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, or at Mr. Lincoln’s Science Fair at the Illinois State Museum.
However, and whenever, you choose to celebrate Honest Abe’s big day, there’s probably something planned for you. Whether it’s an 1860s Period Ball or a giant Lincoln portrait made of Post-It notes, the capital city’s got it all.
Below we’ve compiled a list of Springfield-area Bicentennial activities, running up to the Bicentennial and beyond, to Saturday, Feb. 14. For additional events, further details and updates, visit the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission’s Web site at www.lincoln200.net.
Friday, Feb. 6
From Humble Beginnings: Lincoln’s Illinois 1830-1861
Explore the Illinois that Lincoln knew through a special Bicentennial exhibition at the Illinois State Museum, 502 S. Spring St. Witness how changes in agriculture and industry transformed his state and examine such artifacts as maps of Illinois from the 1830s and a rare John Deere plow. Open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The exhibit runs from Feb. 6 to Jan. 10, 2010. Free admission.
Abraham Lincoln: His Legal Career and His Vision for America
Assemble at the Old State Capitol for a Bicentennial symposium webcast featuring rarely seen historic documents such as the original Dred Scott petition to sue for freedom and a memorial to Abraham Lincoln from his Springfield bar association colleagues, as well as presentations from noted scholars such as Walter Dellinger, assistant attorney general under President Bill Clinton. The program, held in Chicago and webcast to four states, costs $25 for bar association members and $45 for non-members. It runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit www.7thcircuitbar.org to register.
Our American Cousin
Pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln at a performance of Our American Cousin, the 19th century comedy performed in Ford’s Theatre on the night he was shot in April 1865. The Springfield Theatre Centre stages the popular production about a British family whose lives are jostled by an uncouth American relative on Feb. 6-8 and Feb. 13-15 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S. Sixth St. Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m., Sunday shows at 2 p.m. Call 523-2787 for tickets.
Saturday, Feb. 7
Amazing Grace: A Time of Spirituals
Capital city choirs including the Singing Senators, West Side Christian Church Choir, and Baptist Pastors’ Fellowship convene at the Old State Capitol to kick off Lincoln’s birthday celebration. Choirs sing individually from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., then travel to the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site to perform as a single choir at 2:45 p.m. Presentations by local historians Kathryn Harris and Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese follow. Free admission
Lincoln Home Open House
Witness the unveiling of the conserved 1860 Lincoln campaign banner as Bicentennial festivities begin at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. At a special “Open House,” visitors can also tour the latest restoration efforts in the Lincoln Neighborhood, watch the site’s new interpretative film, “Abraham Lincoln: A Journey to Greatness,” and hear about upcoming projects for 2009. The two-hour program begins at 1 p.m. Free admission.
Lincoln Academy of Illinois Bicentennial Award Ceremony
Thirty world-renowned Abraham Lincoln scholars, artists, and collectors travel to Springfield to receive a special Bicentennial edition of the Order of Lincoln Medal — the state’s highest award for achievement — for perpetuating the president’s legacy. The ceremony begins in the Union Theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Black-tie dinner and reception follow in the Museum Plaza. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $175. Call 785-5030 for reservations.
Sunday, Feb. 8
Lincoln’s Post-It Portrait
Chris Killham, of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteer Springfield art students begin work on larger-than-life portraits of Abraham Lincoln in the pedestrian bridge overlooking Jefferson Street between the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Completed project available for viewing Feb. 12.
The Lincoln Project
Chicago artist Don Pollack brings a series of contemporary painted landscapes, portraits, and maps highlighting Abraham Lincoln’s life to the Illinois Gallery at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Exhibited through May 17. Pollack meets visitors in the gallery from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 8. Museum admission required.
Reflecting on Lincoln
Eric Foner, history professor at Columbia University, discusses his collection of essays penned by leading historians, Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World. Program begins at noon in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Free admission. Call 558-8934 to make reservations.
Dan Weinberg, author of Lincoln’s Assassins: Their Trial and Execution, moderates a discussion featuring the nation’s leading Lincoln collectors, including Louise Taper, a private collector who once owned more than 1,500 artifacts, manuscripts, and artworks (now housed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum). The program begins at 2 p.m. in the library. Free admission. Call 558-8934 to make reservations.
State Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago, speaks to “100 Years of Change in America” at the 88th annual Lincoln-Douglas Banquet. The Springfield Branch NAACP-sponsored event begins at 2:45 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 3000 S. Dirksen Pkwy. Tickets $35 for adults and $20 for students. Call 789-2721.
Monday, Feb. 9
Lincoln Bicentennial Stamp Ceremony
U.S. Postmaster General John E. Potter dedicates four new Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial postage stamps — featuring him as a rail-splitter, a lawyer, a politician, and a president — in a First-Day-of-Issue ceremony at the Old State Capitol. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock and Mayor Tim Davlin to attend. The ceremony, free to the public, begins at 10 a.m. The U.S. Postal Service also hosts a special cancellation from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 12.
The Last Lincoln Lecture
Richard Carwardine, Oxford University scholar and author of Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power, lectures on how Lincoln defined the relationship between the United States and the world. The program begins at 7 p.m. in the Union Theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Free admission. Call 558-8934 to make reservations.
Tuesday, Feb. 10
Anniversary of the Lincoln Reception
Commemorate the Lincoln Reception — held exactly 148 years ago for Abraham Lincoln at the Springfield home of Clark and Ann Smith (later occupied by poet Vachel Lindsay). Ann Smith, portrayed by Kathy Reed, hostesses the event, poet Dan Guillory reads Lincoln poems, and city historian Curtis Mann discusses the Aristocracy Hill Neighborhood. From 1 to 4 p.m. at the Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site, 603 S. Fifth St. Free admission.
The Lincolns’ Marriage
Daniel Mark Epstein, author of The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage, discusses his 2008 book in the Union Theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. The program begins at 7 p.m. Free admission. Call 558-8934 to make reservations.
Wednesday, Feb. 11
Lincoln in Illinois
Chicago artist Ron Schramm showcases his series of black and white photographs at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Photographs feature Illinois Abraham Lincoln statues. Exhibited through Sept. 30. Free admission.
Lincoln’s Living History Programs
Tour the Lincoln Home State Historic Site during Lincoln’s birthday weekend. Period-costumed staff share the story of Lincoln’s 17 years in Springfield inside the home and in various outdoor site locations. Visit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 11- Feb. 15, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 12. Free admission.
Springfield’s Farewell to Lincoln
Twenty local actors and local military re-enact moments leading up to Abraham Lincoln’s Feb. 11, 1861 farewell address to Springfield. Nearly 2,800 Sangamon County fifth graders, who studied this historical event, will attend. The program begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Prairie Capital Convention Center. Free to the public.
Harry Hawk, the actor who was performing onstage at Ford’s Theatre when Abraham Lincoln was shot, and Harry Ford, the theatre’s manager, revisit the night of April 15, 1865 in the original drama One Destiny. The production, premiered at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C, in 2007, comes to the Union Theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum at 3 p.m. Feb. 11; 2:15 and 2:45 p.m. Feb. 12; and 3 p.m. Feb. 13. Museum admission required.
Now He Belongs to the Ages
Three original Abraham Lincoln documents — the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery — come to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum for an overnight vigil. Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Michael Krebs, reads from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the Museum’s Union Theater. The viewing, from 5 p.m. Feb. 11 through 8 a.m. Feb. 12, is free to the public.
Let Freedom Sing!
The Illinois Symphony Orchestra leads various capital city chorale and instrumental ensembles in a Bicentennial eve musical celebration at the Prairie Capital Convention Center. Bill Kurtis, award-winning television journalist; Jerry Lambert, News Channel 20 anchor; and Fritz Klein, Lincoln re-enactor, make guest appearances. Entertainment begins at 6:30 p.m. Free admission.
Thursday, Feb. 12
Writing Lincoln for Children
Bob Burleigh, author of Abraham Lincoln Comes Home, and Catherine Clinton, author of The Civil War: An Illustrated History and Mrs. Lincoln, join more writers of historical children’s literature for an adult roundtable discussion at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. The program runs from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. Free admission.
The Election of 1860
Dr. John Squibb, history and science professor, presents “President Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1860” as the First Annual Lincoln Land Community College Lincoln Lecture. The program begins at 9 a.m. in the Trutter Center at Lincoln Land Community College. Continental breakfast provided. Free admission.
The Age of Lincoln
Six Lincoln authors, including Michael Burlingame and Vernon Burton, discuss “The Age of Lincoln” in the Hall of Representatives at the Old State Capitol as part of the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Symposium. The program runs from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Free admission.
Children’s Story Telling with Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Fritz Klein, invites children to attend storytelling programs at Grace Lutheran Church, 714 E. Capitol Ave. Lincoln reads Aesop’s Fables and shares stories from his childhood. African American Underground Railroad hero Harriet Tubman and African American Civil War soldier Andrew Lewis join Lincoln in the morning session, from 10 to 11 a.m. The second session runs from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Lincoln children’s book authors will sign books before each program. Free admission.
Wreath Laying at the Tomb
The American Legion honors the Bicentennial with a special 75th Diamond Anniversary National American Legion Pilgrimage to the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. Dignitaries walk from downtown Springfield to place wreaths at Oak Ridge Cemetery tomb. The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. Free to the public.
Michael Burlingame, author of the new multi-volume book Abraham Lincoln: A Life and recipient of the Bicentennial edition of The Order of Lincoln, speaks at Lincoln’s birthday luncheon at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel, 701 E. Adams. The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $30 and available at 558-8934.
Lincoln Day Luncheon
Former Republican Presidential Candidate and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee visits Springfield at the 105th annual Lincoln Day Luncheon. Hosted by the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee, the luncheon begins at 11:59 a.m. at the Prairie Capital Convention Center. Tickets are $100. Call 528-6267 for reservations.
Violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe and pianist Marta Aznavoorian perform winning piano trio commissions submitted during the Bicentennial competition at last year’s Chicago Ravinia Festival. The trio plays from noon to 1 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 714 E. Capitol Ave., and again at 10 a.m. Feb. 13 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Museum admission required.
Children’s Reading Room
Children’s authors including Cheryl Harness, Betty Kay, Wendell Minor, and Karen Winnick read their books to children in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s Children’s Reading Room from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Free admission.
George L. Painter Lincoln Lectures
The Lincoln Home National Historic Site offers its annual Painter Lectures in Grace Lutheran Church, 714 E. Capitol Ave. Dan Guillory, Barry Schwartz and Wayne Temple discuss “Literary Uses of Lincoln” from 1 to 2:15 p.m. Michael Burlingame, Catherine Clinton and others discuss “The Personal Lincoln” from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. Free admission.
The BreakUp of the Union
Elizabeth Varon, Russell McClintock and Bruce Levine discuss the breakup of the Union at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library from 1 to 2:15 p.m. Free admission. Call 558-8934 to make reservations.
Lincoln and the Civil War
Jennifer Weber, Brooks Simpson and Barry Schwartz join a roundtable discussion on “Lincoln and the Civil War” from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Free admission. Call 558-8934 to make reservations.
Bicentennial Period Ball
Ladies and gentlemen dressed in mid-1800s attire twirl around the Bicentennial Period Ball at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. The 10th Calvary Regiment Band provides music; Springfield Theatre Centre performs One Destiny. The ball begins at 6 p.m. Costume not required. Free admission, but limited space. Call 558-8934 to make reservations.
Abraham Lincoln’s 200th Birthday Party
President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., are invited to attend Abraham Lincoln’s 200th Birthday Party at 7 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 3000 S. Dirksen Pkwy. The main ballroom has sold out, but overflow seating still available for $45. Dessert buffet included. Visit www.abrahamlincolnassociation.org for further details.
Friday, Feb. 13
Lincoln and Leadership Workshop
Donald T. Phillips, author of Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times, and Fritz Klein as Abraham Lincoln discuss how Lincoln’s leadership principles and philosophy guided his presidency. Attendees ask questions during a presidential press conference. The program, free to the public, runs from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S. Sixth St. Call 391-3241 to make reservations.
A Soldier’s Story
Andrew Lewis, a 52-year-old Civil War veteran portrayed by Robert J. Davis, reminisces about his journey from birth as a slave on a Kentucky Plantation to his service with the Illinois 29th Infantry, the United States Color Troops, during the Civil War. The program begins at 10 a.m. at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Free admission.
Emancipation and the Dream of Freedom - From Slavery to the White House
Historical characters Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr., discuss the interconnectivity of Lincoln’s story and the story of American freedom, equality and civil rights. The program runs from 2 to 3 p.m. on Feb 13 and from 10 to 11 a.m. on Feb. 14 at Grace Lutheran Church, 714 E. Capitol Ave. Free admission.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Lincoln’s Words and Music
Singers and musicians, including Judy Cook and Christ the King Parish Handbell Choir, perform music from the Lincoln era beginning at 10 a.m. at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. At 4 p.m., Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Fritz Klein, discusses Lincoln’s life in between performances of music the president enjoyed in “A Biography in Words and Music,” at First Presbyterian Church, 321 S. Seventh St. Free admission.
Mr. Lincoln’s Science Fair
Celebrate the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin at the Illinois State Museum, 502 S. Spring St., by exploring science from their era. Learn about flora and fauna discoveries, investigate medical achievements and meet with Charles Darwin, who will share his adventures on the H.M.S. Beagle and explain his theory of evolution. The fair, free to the public, runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Darwin’s presentations will be held at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. in the museum’s Thorne Deuel Auditorium.