Illinois Old State Capitol Museum

More From Illinois

Legislators from the past are still working for the people.

This is one more place apparently that the spirit of Abraham Lincoln likes to visit.

Sadness still lingers…



Today’s Illinois Old State Capitol Building Museum was reconstructed to be exactly like the original state capitol that stood here from 1840-1876. It is a beautiful, Greek Revival style building both inside and out.

The outstanding feature of the front has to be the Greek Pillars, (Corinthian Columns). They are made of yellow limestone from the Sugar Creek stone quarry nearby and feature streaks of orange due to high levels of iron in the stone. An elegant dome adorns the top of the building crowned with a red cap at the very top.

All the rooms and places of business in this building was recreated to duplicate exactly their original appearance; a wonderful step back in time experience. Visitors can see “both houses of the General Assembly, offices for the Governor of Illinois and other executive officials, and a chamber for the Illinois Supreme Court.”

Walking into this grand building, the visitor stands in the “spacious center hall.” A beautiful double staircase curves up elegantly to the second floor. If the visitor looks through the openings of the staircase, a lovely view of the inside of the dome is on display.

The Supreme Court Chamber is in on the ground floor, a place where a young Abraham Lincoln presented many of his cases. The Court Library and Clerk’s Office are nearby. The Library was for men only; a custom of the times. It is full of books that Lincoln and his fellow lawyers used to research the laws that they used to argue their cases.

At the top of the staircase, the visitor stands under the Capitol Dome directly, an inspiring sight indeed!!

The Governor’s Office was on the second floor. Ulysses S Grant had an office here before he was made the commander of the Union Forces in the Civil War.

Representatives Hall is another quite an impressive room. The narrow wooden desks of the Representatives were placed in long semi-circular rows. An impressive dais where the House Speaker’s desk was located faces the assembly of desks.

There are over five hundred artifacts on display throughout the interior, including relics/artifacts from the Civil War. Representative Hall has its fair share of these items.

For instance, a stovepipe hat, the kind Abraham Lincoln is famous for, sits on his desk, to let everyone know where he sat during the legislative sessions.

Behind the Speaker’s desk, an oil portrait of President Washington, painted just for this Capitol Building chamber is hung prominently.

The visitor can take a thirty minute guided tour or go on a self-directed tour of this fabulous building, which is used for community assemblies and events. In 2007, this was the place where Senator Barack Obama announced that he was running for President, and introduced his running mate, Senator Biden.



From 1820-1837, the Illinois State Capitol was located in Vandalia, in the southern part of the state. In the 1830s, more land was developed, attracting a larger population in and around the town of Springfield. Public pressure eventually proved strong enough to move the capitol to a larger city. A caucus of nine Illinois lawmakers, including the up-and-coming Abraham Lincoln, worked hard to petition the new Illinois Capitol be moved to Springfield.

Springfield officially became the capitol city of Illinois in 1839. The State Capitol building was built on Springfield’s Central Plaza, for a total cost of $240,000, a boatload of money for this era. The City of Springfield pitched in $50,000. Local architect John Francis Rague designed this beautiful Capitol Building.

It was used until the 1870s. However, because of the economic growth spurred by the American Civil War, and money-making efforts from new industries, the Illinois State Capitol had become painfully too small, and was demoted to a new role as the Sangamon County Courthouse, from 1866 until 1966.

Extensive renovations were done, starting in 1898. The entire building was lifted up eleven feet and a third floor was added. The interior was completely reorganized and renovated to create new court rooms and office space.

During the 1960 Centennial Celebration of the Civil War, community interest was sparked in the old State Capitol Building, made forever famous because Lincoln practiced law in front of the State Supreme Court, and served in the Illinois Legislature.

He also gave his timeless speech;”House Divided” in 1858 when he ran for the United States Senate. He lost to his old political sparring partner, Stephen Douglas. However, Abraham Lincoln was elected President just two years later.

Coincidentally, as Sangamon County’s judicial system was no longer a fit for this historic building, Sangamon County decided to give it to the State of Illinois and then proceeded to build a much larger building to meet their needs.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Society got to work. Workers completely dismantled the whole structure, because it had become a wobbly fixer-upper mess. They rebuilt it, stone by stone, using the original stones.

The public areas, offices, Representative Hall and the Supreme Court Chamber were faithfully restored to the way they were in 1860, when Lincoln left for Washington DC to become President.

They did a beautiful job, much to the joy of the Springfield community, Lincoln enthusiasts, and visitors, and probably some spectral community servants from long ago.

The area underneath the Capitol Plaza was excavated, and turned into an extensive office and parking area, which was the finishing touch needed for modern use.



When a structure is completely changed back to its historial roots, spirits who were once attached to this structure can come back to enjoy it and relive their memories.

Custer House, ND (The Custer House was completely rebuilt on the spot where it once stood, with the builders carefully following Custer’s own blueprints for his house. The spirits of the Custer Family and others who once found comfort here have moved right inside).

Hartford Twain House Museum, CT (The dilapidated old Twain structure was fully restored to the way it was when the Twain family lived there).

Geiser Grand Hotel, OR (The Geiser Grand had become a home for local wildlife, but the new owners restored it fully. Spirits here were beside themselves in excitement, and started appearing to workmen during the restoration to encourage them).

Illinois Old State Capitol Museum (The restoration of the Springfield Capitol Building being restored to its period-correct 1860 state has drawn spectral politicians back into this world).


People who love their work, and all that it entails, sometimes continue to do so in their afterlife.

Rex Restaurant, MT (The spirits of town politicians still meet here to hammer out agendas and strategic moves).

U.S. Capitol Building, DC (The spirit of John Adams has been seen standing at his desk, about to give a speech).

Oregon State Capitol, OR (Apparently this Capitol building is used 24 hours a day. The evening belongs to spirits of representatives who are still at work. One even makes an appearance in front of a cleaning staff member).

Illinois Old State Capitol Museum (Spirits who loved their jobs are still here. The spirit of Abraham Lincoln is still reliving his memories of his career here as a State Representative).


The residual energy of strong emotions felt can soak into the walls at a place where earthly dramas were once acted out.

St. Valentine Day’s Massacre, IL (Bricks from the wall in the garage, where anti-Capone gangsters and a unrelated victim were slaughtered, have long been saturated with negative energy. They are safely on display now in the Mob Museum in Las Vegas).

Dude Rancher Lodge, MT (Some of the bricks used to build this inn came from a school which has brought positive residual energy in the form of the sounds of children playing).

Wheeler House, UVM (The residual energy of the spirit of Lucia replayed itself again and again until it finally died out).

Illinois Old State Capitol Museum (Residual energy from the great sorrow felt by mourners who came to say goodbye to Abraham Lincoln when he lay in state in Representative Hall is still here and felt by people).



Limestone can encourage spectral activity and as the walls here are made of limestone, spirits here must be happy. Many representatives spent uncountable hours in this building, especially in the years before the Civil War.

The two most dedicated prominent men, of course, were Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. Though they were on opposite sides of the political aisle, they were “united in their efforts to preserve the union.”

Spirits of Unseen Presences

These spirits are felt throughout the building by sensitive people both day and night, hard working even in spirit form.

When the structure is closed, the spirits of Douglas and Lincoln are probably still debating each other in fervent style; reliving their debates.

Spirit of Abraham Lincoln

His spirit has been seen pacing on the sidewalk by the State Capitol Building, as if he was deep in thought.

In Representative Hall, mist was caught on film next to Lincoln’s desk and stovepipe hat.

An orb has been seen floating above the space where his body was put on display., when it was returned to Springfield after his assassination.

Residual Energy

Sensitive people can feel the grief of the many mourners who came to pay their last respects as Abraham Lincoln lay in state for viewing.


People have had the experience of seeing the apparition of Abraham Lincoln walking on the sidewalk in front of the Illinois Old State Capitol Museum.

People have felt the deeply sad energy that still exists in the Representative Hall.

While the large paranormal investigation groups have not been here, small investigators like John B Kachuba, armed only with cameras, have gathered some hard and some softer evidence of spirits here. John Kachuba mentions what he caught in his book, listed below in the Sources Include section.



Perhaps so.

The spirit of Lincoln apparently is busy indeed! He has made appearances at all the places that were important to him in his adult life, as well as where his body and the family remains ended up. He is active in the White House, in Washington D.C., whenever the nation is suffering in a troublesome situation. He likes to visit the historic Lincoln Home, the Lincoln family Tomb, his old law office, all of which are in Springfield.

Lincoln still is presenting cases in the original State Capitol building location in Illinois’ first capitol city, Vandalia, IL.

It’s not too much of a stretch to say that he may also visit the Illinois Old State Capitol Museum, along with fellow statesmen and his political adversary, Stephen Douglas, who likely visits when the spirit of Abraham is in the building.

While more personal experiences and hard evidence would be helpful in determining if spectral lawmakers and Abraham himself are still working for the people, the evidence caught by John Kachuba is a startling beginning that could hopefully encourage other investigations by individuals to strengthen the case that spirits are visiting/residing here.



526 E Adams Street
Springfield, IL 62701

The Old State Capitol is in Capitol Plaza at Sixth and East Adams Streets, in Historic downtown Springfield. An hourly-rate parking garage is located beneath the plaza. The Capitol Building entrance is on Sixth Street, between Adams and Washington. Metered street parking may also be available. City of Springfield parking meters are enforced Monday-Friday.

This part of the city loves one-way streets, so getting there may be a challenge for the out-of-towner. The Old State Capitol is located on East Adams Street; (a one-way street going west), between South 5th Street, (a one way street going south), and South 6th Street, (another one way street going north).

Washington Street is just north of Capitol Plaza and this main drag runs east, past both South 5th St and South 6th Street.

Perhaps it is best to go on South 6th Street to East Adams Street because the underground parking entrance in there. It is best to have a good GPS map on your phone or an old fashioned map book.



  • Ghosthunting Illinois, by John B. Kachuba, Clerisy Press, Cincinnati, OH, fourth printing 2011.
  • Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide, By Rich Newman, Llewellyn Publications, second printing, 2016
  • Office of Land Management, Historic Sites Division website, Central Division
  • Wikipedia webpage, Illinois Old State Capitol Museum

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