Illinois State Capitol

Completed: 1888
Architect: John C. Cochrane

Photos: Robert Deering 9/1/2014

The Capitol, situated on a nine acre plot, was designed in the form of a modified Latin cross. The facade is classical, an extremely popular style for government and public buildings in the nineteenth century. The French-style Mansard roofs on the north and south wings are indicative of the influence of Piquenard, a native of France.

The immense dome is supported by a circular foundation, 92-1/2 feet in diameter, set on solid rock 25-1/2 feet below the grade line. The walls supporting the dome, made from limestone quarried at Hancock County, are seventeen feet thick from the foundation to the first floor. Limestone from Joliet and Lemont quarries was used in the construction of the Capitol's exterior walls.

The extreme length of the building from north to south is 379 feet, and 268 feet from east to west. The height from the ground line to the top of the dome is 361 feet, and 405 feet to the tip of the flagstaff.


ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Algonquin Indian for "warriors"


STATE MOTTO: State Sovereignty, National Union

1870 PREAMBLE: We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil , political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

ADDRESS: 401 S 2nd St, Springfield, IL 62706


Robert & Cheryl Deering
At The Illinois State Line
Photo: Ferdie Deering 1950

 Old Capitol Building

Completed: 1840
Architect: John F. Rague

Photos: Robert Deering 9/1/2014

On July 4, 1837, the first brick was laid for Illinois' fifth capitol. It was designed by John F. Rague who also designed the nearly identical Iowa Territorial Capitol.  In 1853, the capitol was completed for a total sum of $260,000, almost twenty times the cost of any such previous structure. The building was designed in the Greek Revival style from stone quarried six miles (10 km) from the site. For many years, it was the largest and most extravagant capitol of the western frontier of the United States. The fifth capitol is associated with Abraham Lincoln as it was here that he argued cases before the Illinois Supreme Court, here that he served with the State Legislature, here that he first debated Stephen Douglas, here where he delivered his famous "House Divided" speech, and here where he lay in state after his assassination on May 4, 1865.

As Illinois prospered and experienced several booms in population, the fifth capitol became crowded, especially as a result of relocations after the Civil War. On February 24, 1867, the state voted to construct a new larger capitol. After breaking the ground for the sixth and current Capitol in 1868, the state recouped the costs of the fifth capitol by selling it to Sangamon County for $200,000. It served as the county court house until 1961 when the state again purchased the building and restored it as a historic landmark, the Old State Capitol State Historic Site.

ADDRESS: 1 SW Old State Capitol Plaza, Springfield, IL 62701

 Old Capitol Building

Completed: 1836

Stock Photo

The town of Vandalia served as the Illinois state capitol from 1819 to 1839, until a young state lawmaker named Abraham Lincoln led a controversial effort to get the capitol moved to Springfield, closer to the center of the state. This state capitol building in Vandalia was completed in 1836, near the end of the town’s run as the head of state government. It’s used as a museum today. And directly across the street from the main entrance you’ll find a small plaza with a statue of young Mr. Lincoln, demonstrating the folks in Vandalia have totally gotten over Abe’s efforts to move the capitol.

ADDRESS: 315 W Gallatin St, Vandalia, IL 62471