Tourists Dismayed That Lincoln Home Closed by Government Shutdown

The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield (Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons)The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield (Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Some tourists visiting central Illinois are disappointed that the partial federal government shutdown has left Abraham Lincoln’s home closed to tours.

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The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield closed when the shutdown began Friday in the fight over funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service operates the home, where Lincoln lived with his family for 17 years.

John Park of Palatine was disappointed Sunday to find the home closed after making a special trip to Springfield with his wife and two adult sons to visit the historic site again after touring it 20 years ago.

"We were trying to recreate our family memory," Park told The State Journal-Register. "We’re trying to make a family story, but now it’s closed."

Downtown Springfield Inc. Executive Director Lisa Clemmons Stott said the government shutdown is bad news for local tourism, as the Lincoln Home attracts about 200,000 visitors a year.

"Being one of our most important sites, it does take a toll," she said.

Built in 1839 and first occupied by the Lincolns in 1844, the two-story house is where Lincoln lived with his wife, Mary, and their sons, Robert, Eddie, Willie and Tad while the future president worked as a Springfield lawyer and launched his political career.

Native Venezuelans Estefania Lara and her husband Oswaldo Madrid, who live in Springfield, were impressed with the Lincoln Home during a previous tour and were hoping to take her sister there while she stayed with them for the holidays.

Lara said she had heard about the government shutdown but didn’t think it would affect the Lincoln Home.

"I don’t really know the whole politics," she said. "I was quite surprised."

Clemmons Stott said hotel bookings in Springfield remain down compared to five years ago as other Lincoln-related sites operated by the state — including the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, the Lincoln Tomb and Old State Capitol — faced shorter hours from the two-year budget impasse during Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s term and budget cuts under Democratic former Gov. Pat Quinn.

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