It's Oct. 4, 1854, and Abraham
Lincoln is walking toward the Old State Capitol to
deliver a speech,
Lincoln's wife, Mary, is straightening the lapel on
his coat. Their 4-year-old son, Willie, with a slight,
sweet smile, waves good-bye to his older brother,
Robert, who is leaving for school.
The four Lincolns were sculpted by internationally
recognized artist Larry Anderson, of Bonney Lake, Wash.,
and the resulting four bronze statues comprise a new
exhibit called "Springfield's Lincoln" on the southeast
side of the Old State Capitol Plaza. Anderson's work was
unveiled Saturday in a ceremony on the plaza.
Anderson's work helps demonstrate the Lincolns'
Springfield ties for local residents as well as the
thousands of people who visit here each year, said
Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau executive
director Tim Farley.
The sculpture is described as interactive, in that
the public may touch the statues and pose by them for
"We are truly on the threshold of a new era in
Springfield," said Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin,
referring to the sculptures, additional Lincoln exhibits
planned for downtown Springfield and the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library and Museum.
Of "Springfield's Lincoln," Davlin said, "Visitors
and residents won't have to imagine what it was like
when Lincoln walked downtown. They will now be able to
capture the very feeling that townsfolk in the 19th
century experienced when they traversed the same
Anderson said he tried to represent the Lincolns'
day-to-day activities in the years before he ran for
"My effort is to reflect a sense of optimism, sort of
a can-do attitude, rather than the looking down,
reflective, carrying-the-weight-of-the-world (image of
Lincoln) that was the effect of the (Civil) War,"
Anderson told The State Journal-Register last summer.
Lincoln, Anderson noted Saturday, "couldn't have gone
from a log cabin to the White House without the
polishing effects of a career in Springfield. There he
met Mary, became a father, a successful lawyer, then
Anderson said he read books and studied photographs
in order to make the sculptures as accurate and lifelike
as possible. The process included sculpting life-sized
clay models that became the foundations for the bronze
Various people, including his wife who is the same
5'2" height as Mary Todd Lincoln, were his models.
Known for his attention to detail, Anderson's details
for the Lincoln project include laugh lines around
Abraham Lincoln's eyes, flowers on Mary's bonnet and a
pearl necklace around her neck, Robert's back pack, and
buttons on Robert and Willie's clothes.
"Look at the notes (for Abraham Lincoln's speech)
inside Lincoln's hatband," said one visitor, pointing to
the statue of Lincoln and notes that Anderson tried to
get as close to Lincoln's handwriting as possible.
Julia Noonan of Springfield said she made a special
trip downtown to attend Saturday's event.
"I just think this is so exciting. So many people
come here (to the plaza) for lunch, to visit. This is
very important for Springfield," Noonan said.
Anderson, a longtime fan of Lincoln, said he found
personal joy in doing "Springfield's Lincoln."
"I have held Lincoln in the highest esteem my entire
life," he said. "It is humbling to know that some of the
finest sculptors in the world have done Lincoln. I hope
my effort here will contribute to the existing genre in
a positive way."
"The $210,000 sculpture of the Lincoln family will be
the highlight of what is planned as a series of more
than 30 outdoor exhibits that are part of a program
called "Here I Have Lived." The program is designed to
explain Lincoln's life during his nearly 25 years in
Springfield, according to Nicky Stratton of the Looking
for Lincoln Heritage program.
The $769,000 program is being paid for by the city,
largely through a state grant.
The other exhibits will be on display boards on steel
posts in the vicinity of the Old State Capitol. They'll
provide information about sites important to Lincoln's
life in Springfield, including his law office and the
site of a barbershop where he spent time with friends.
Debra Landis can be reached at 483-4352