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Looking for Lincoln
Few places in Illinois played a more important role in shaping Lincoln’s political success than Bloomington-Normal. It was home to some of Lincoln’s closest friends and colleagues, including Jesse Fell and David Davis, and its residents became some of his most important backers in his pursuit of national office.
This Looking for Lincoln Tour offers you a chance to walk in Lincoln’s footsteps. See below for the places where he stayed, worked and visited during his time in BN.
You can also participate in a CD-based audio tour of the Looking For Lincoln sites that presents President Lincoln as a returning visitor, talking about the places he visited and their meaning to him. Whether you drive the route or enjoy the audio tour from your favorite armchair, this is a special and novel way to learn about the history of Lincoln and the role Bloomington-Normal played in his life. The CD can be purchased at the McLean County Museum of History.
BN also has the perfect souvenir for your Lincoln adventure. The McLean County Museum of History is now a part of the National Park Service Passport Program, which allows visitors to record their adventures by receiving a cancellation stamp in their NPS passport at each Looking for Lincoln site that they visit. The passport can be purchased at several Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area sites. The cancellations, like those received in an international passport, record the name of the passport community and the date it was visited.
Download a map of the following locations
Asahel Gridley Bank and Miller-Davis Buildings
101-103 North Main Street and 102-104 East Front Street, Bloomington, 61701
Lincoln often visited the law offices of his friend, Judge David Davis, and the bank owned by Asahel Gridley.
David Davis Mansion
1000 Monroe Drive, Bloomington, 61701
This 19th century, 36 room estate was the home of Judge David Davis and his family. His influence on Lincoln’s legal and political career was crucial to the president’s success.
Illinois State University
200 South University Street, Normal, 61761
Illinois’ first public university was founded in 1857 with legal assistance from Lincoln.
Jesse Fell Home
Corner of Broadway and Irving Streets, Normal, 61761
Fell’s home served as a gathering place for Lincoln’s friends and allies as they planned election strategies.
Lincoln’s Real Estate
Corner of Jefferson and McLean Streets, Bloomington, 61701
Two lots at this site were owned by Lincoln for nearly five years.
Lincoln and the Illinois Central Railroad
916 East Grove Street, Bloomington, 61701
Lincoln won a case for the railroad, and was then forced to sue the company for his fee.
Southwest Corner of East and Front Streets, Bloomington, 61701
On May 29, 1856 Lincoln delivered what would later be known as the “lost speech,” so-named because only a few phrases of it appeared in print. Lincoln spoke out against the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which launched him as the leader of the Illinois Republican Party.
McLean County Museum of History
200 North Main Street Bloomington, 61701
The original courthouse where Lincoln practiced law burned down in 1900, but a new building was constructed on the same site. It houses over 1500 linear feet of archives.
The National Hotel
West Front Street, Bloomington, 61701
Lincoln stayed in this hotel that was owned by his friend, John Ewing, who was later elected mayor of Bloomington.
Southeast Corner of Center and Monroe Streets, Bloomington, 61701
On the evening of May 28, 1856, Lincoln spoke from the portico of the Pike House Hotel. The hotel was lost to a fire in the early 1860s.
The Phoenix Block
106 West Washington Street, Bloomington, 61701
Jesse Fell invited Lincoln to the law office of his brother, Kersey Fell, to try and persuade him to write an autobiography to help promote his presidential candidacy.
Rosie’s Bar and Grill
106 East Front Street, Bloomington 61701
The second floor of this present day restaurant was home to Asahel Gridley’s law practice. Lincoln worked with Gridley in his office, and when Gridley gave up his law practice he turned it over to Lincoln.
William “Billy the Barber” Florville
624 North Main Street, Bloomington, 61701
William was Lincoln’s most well-known African-American friend. He owned several lots at this corner.