VANDALIA, Ill. (WCIA) — When you think of Illinois’ capital city, Springfield undoubtedly comes to mind. For almost 180 years the city has been at the center of Illinois politics. It is the reason many find it surprising that Springfield has not always been the state capital. From 1819 to 1839, Vandalia, in south-central Illinois, held the title of capital city.
“A lot of the history before the capital moved to Springfield is ignored.” Says Vandalia Historian Dale Timmermann
It is the reason that Timmermann and others in town want people all over Illinois and beyond to know that they can come visit the Old State Capitol building in town. Constructed in 1831, it offers visitors a glimpse of what Illinois was like in the decades after gaining statehood.
One of the things that many find most interesting about the Old State Capitol building is its connection to Abraham Lincoln. It is where Lincoln first held elected office beginning at age 25. When visitors step foot in the legislature, they are able to experience something very unique.
“There are not many places you can walk on the same boards that Abraham Lincoln walked on. If you go upstairs to the House of Representatives room, you can walk on the same floor boards Lincoln walked on when he was here in the legislature.” Says Timmermann
It is a unique opportunity to explore where Lincoln learned the ropes of politics decades before he would step foot in the White House.
While the state capital was moved to Springfield in 1839, the history will forever remain in Vandalia. If you would like to explore it for yourself, the Old State Capitol building is open to the public Tuesday
through Saturday. Admission to the site is free. For more information you can call 618-283-1161 or you can visit their website.