This Federalist-style home once belonged to one of Abraham Lincoln's close friends.
This beautiful Federalist-style home was originally built in 1816 for John and Lucy Speed. The home and surrounding property was once a hemp plantation where almost 60 slaves helped make the plantation successful. John and Lucy had 10 children. The 5th child, born in 1814, was Joshua Fry Speed. Joshua opened a store in Springfield, Illinois and that is where he first met Abraham Lincoln in 1837. Joshua noticed how sad Abraham looked that day and offered him a place to stay free above his store. Their friendship grew after that visit, and they remained good friends.
The brick plantation house has 14 rooms on the first floor and is restored with the original paint colors and historic wallpaper and carpets. Guests will see that the home is also furnished with Kentucky furniture along with antiques from the period. The first story of the house is five feet above the ground level and has basement windows above ground. This is where the servant's rooms and the children's rooms were located. The design of the home is thought to be based on a design by Thomas Jefferson because of its Jeffersonian architectural features. Many of its original features remain, such as the woodwork, the glass, and the brass work. The carved mantles and marbleized baseboards add to its elegance.
The site is on 18-acres and features a garden, a stone springhouse, and a barn. There are also the cook's quarters and kitchen plus a museum store. The site now has a remodeled carriage house that hosts special events. While visiting and taking a tour, the docents will tell you fascinating stories about the history of the property and the people that once lived there. The grounds are available to explore daily and are free of charge. Rates for the tours are very reasonable, and tours begin on the hour at the Visitors Center. The Visitors Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from 11 am to 1 pm.