Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site (Springfield, Illinois)

Lincoln's Tomb

The Lincoln Tomb at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois is the final resting place of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Laid to rest with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of their four sons, Edward, William, and Thomas, the granite tomb is a tribute more to the idea of the man than to the actual man.

The monument association developed for the purpose of the Lincoln tribute held a national design contest after raising most of the tomb funds with $50,000 contributed by the  Illinois legislature. Sculptor Larkin G. Mead won the tomb design competition with his design which included a statue of Lincoln and four groups symbolizing Union military action in the Civil War.

The tomb has a single-story rectangular base, with a semicircular receiving room on one end, and semicircular crypt on the opposite side. The entire site is set off with a very non-Lincoln 117 feet (36m) tall obelisk. The four flights of balustraded stairs lead to a level terrace forming a parapet where several statues are located at the base of the obelisk. Among the statues there is a bronze reproduction of sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s head of Lincoln that resides in the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. The stained glass window and flags adorning the crypt bring a solemn sense to tomb that sometimes seems forgotten by the tour groups.

The mausoleum is owned and operated by the State of Illinois as the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. It was designated one of the first National Historic Landmarks in 1960, and as a result is one of the first sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, the same year the designation was created.

Lincolns Tomb Facts

  • The nose of the Lincoln statue is eternally shiny due to the tradition of rubbing it for good luck.
  • The tomb was completed except for the Lincoln statue and four exterior military statuary groups in 1871.
  • The Lincoln tomb was dedicated before a large crowd with speeches by Richard J. Oglesby and Ulysses S. Grant on 15, October 1874.
  • There are several replica statues of Abraham Lincoln at the site all by well known artists.
  • Robert Todd Lincoln and Judge David Davis were responsible for personally selecting the site.
  • The Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site was one of the first National Historic Landmarks in the United States.
  • Lincoln’s eldest son Robert was the only immediate family member present at the burial.
  • The remains of Lincoln’s son Edward, who died in Springfield at age three were moved to a temporary vault at the site in December of 1865.
  • After a series of reconstruction and a redesigned interior, the tomb was rededicated with President Herbert Hoover as the main speaker in 1931.