Minnesota February 2019:
Day 3 - Springfield


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Minnesota February 2019: [Day 1 - Red Wing] [Day 2 - White Bear Lake] [Day 3 - Springfield]

Sunday, February 10, 2019: After an early morning alarm and a swing through the McDonald's drive-thru next to our hotel, we headed south. For the first time ever, we took US-55 toward Springfield.
We found ourselves in the land of Route 66 again, having seen portions of it in Arizona in 2018 and Oklahoma and Texas in 2017.
By 9:00 AM, we were near Springfield. It had started to snow along our drive, and now it was starting to stick to the ground.
We pulled into the empty parking lot of the Dana-Thomas House.
Photos aren't allowed inside, so we took as many as possible outside.
Here's what was behind the wall we saw when we first arrived.
The carriage house has been turned into the visitor center and gift shop. The entrance is hidden right behind that column in the center.
Standing in the same position but turning 90 degrees to the right, here is the house.
Here's a better view of it from near the entrance to the carriage house. There is much more to this 12,000 square foot house than it first appears from the street.
Two women were already here for the tour and were watching the short introductory video. We opted to join their tour and watch the video when we returned.
We looked around while we waited. From left to right are portraits of: Frank Lloyd Wright as a young man, Susan Lawrence Dana (the woman who commissioned the home), Vachel Lindsay (a Springfield-born poet), and Frank Lloyd Wright as an old man.
Here's a drawing of the home. At this point, our tour began, but no photos are allowed of the interior of the home. Bummer. Since this website is intended to be our personal scrapbook/photo album, we scanned photos from the souvenir book we bought so we can retain those memories.
We started in the library, which had beautiful built-in book cabinets.
Here's a duckpin bowling lane.
The entry way has gorgeous arched double doors, not shown here, and this beautiful sculpture on the left, titled, "Flower in the Crannied Wall," named after Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem.
The entry way offers a glimpse into the larger reception area. The home contains three levels, but with various stairs and steps up, there are 16 levels in all.
There's a fountain which wasn't working during our visit, and doesn't appear to be in this photo either. A little later, we saw the access point to the plumbing, hidden in the hallway way behind it.
Here's the master bedroom. It has wooden closets and storage, plus desks and wardrobes. The bathroom had walls with dozens of pull-out drawers, as did many of the hallways. There was so much storage in this home.
On the other side of the bedroom, facing the beautiful art glass windows, were two identical single beds on either side of a fireplace. The fireplace was extremely shallow and we're guessing it suffers from the classic FLW problem of spewing smoke into the room, but we didn't ask. Each bed has heavy green drapes, which matched the same drapes found throughout the house, allowing the art glass to be covered up when privacy or warmth were needed.
The dining room ends in a lovely breakfast nook alcove area. The table was not set nor extended like this during our visit, but our guide explained about how far out it could be extended. The room had a high arched ceiling, one of three that Wright designed. The second was also here and the third is in the playroom at his home in Oak Park. Light bulbs were hidden at the base of the arch on either side. Later in our tour, we saw the access point to change the light bulbs, and the light bulbs themselves. Note the beautiful butterfly-inspired art glass lamps overhead and the sumac design on the windows in the back. Butterflies and sumac are the two themes that inspired the design and are repeated throughout the house
The kitchen area wasn't as heavily designed and decorated as the rest of the house, because it was just for servant use. The home was designed to be able to throw lots of parties, so this one was fairly large, plus there was a second, smaller kitchen toward the other end of the house. However, much of the food was often catered by Maldaner's Restaurant, which we spotted later in the day. There was a large cooler, with individual ice boxes to hold blocks of ice, plus an exterior access point for ice deliveries. A card placed in a window indicated how many pounds of ice were requested by the household.
This long hallway is the conservatory. Long metal tubs along the window could hold seasonal decorations, potted plants, or even goldfish for children's parties. It still contained Christmas decorations during our visit.
The gallery has the second arched ceiling. It contains fold-out tables intended to display artwork during social events. There is a raised area that can be used as a stage, and a balcony overlooking the room can accommodate musicians. The opposite side of the room contained a gorgeous art glass display hanging from the ceiling. We got a glimpse of it from outside a little later.
After the tour was over, we watched the introductory film we had missed earlier, and bought a souvenir book and magnet from the gift shop. Then we took more photos of the exterior. The corners of the roof were inspired by Japanese roofs. The gutters are made of copper, ...
... and the detail on the walls is made of plaster that has been painted to match the copper patina.
We walked to the far corner of the home, on the opposite side of the rectangular property from the carriage house.
The main entrance is now coming into view.
Here it is, with gorgeous art glass arching over the round-topped front door. As our guide demonstrated during the tour, the color of the glass is much more bright when viewed from outside versus inside.
Here is the outside of the gallery. A Japanese torii gate is visible through the large window.
Long, narrow panes of art glass hang from it, creating a striking effect inside.
It was a fantastic tour and we highly recommend it for all Frank Lloyd Wright fans.
It was now 10:45 AM and we had lots of Springfield sights to see, starting with Oak Ridge Cemetery.
Roadside America alerted us to Roy Bertelli's tomb, located right next to the start of the road that leads to Lincoln's Tomb.
Legend has it that he had some disagreement with the cemetery owners, so he deliberately built a large monument and tomb where all the Lincoln visitors would see it. Tom scraped the snow off of his monument to help his cause.
With a layer of ice still frozen on it, it is hard to read, but it says Roy Bertelli, Mr. Accordion, with an accordion in the center.
He performed with Lawrence Welk back in the day and was a World War II veteran. Rumor has it that when he died in 2003, he chose to be buried elsewhere.
We drove around the back of Lincoln's Tomb next. Not on purpose, but because we took the wrong road from Mr. Accordion's monument.
But we got to see this thing at the base of the hill as a result. The sign on the left says, "This vault held the remains of Abraham Lincoln from May 4 1865 to December 21 1865."
We made it around back to the front of the hill, but the roads were very, very icy and it took a couple of tries to make the turn into the parking lot. Fortunately, there weren't any other cars around, so we had lots of room and time to try.
This place is officially known as Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. It is probably crawling with visitors on a warm, sunny day when the interior is open, but today, we had the exterior all to ourselves.
This building is the final resting place of Lincoln, his wife, and three of their children. Four bronze statues surround the 117-foot-tall obelisk.
A bronze replica of a marble bust by Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mount Rushmore, stands guard out front. Visitors (like Debbie) rub his nose for good luck.
On our way out, we saw a gigantic monument that we dubbed the "Flintstones Crypt."
Our next stop was the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Right inside Gate One, shown here at the top of the very icy hill we had to climb to get out, is ...
... this very tall statue of Abraham Lincoln.
We spent some time driving back and forth through the Fairgrounds as we attempted to get out without sliding in the snow too much. Yay for winter!
By 11:30 AM, we were passing the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (on the left) and Museum (on the right).
We hear it is a great place to visit, but we didn't have the time or the interest.
Right next to it is Union Square Park. A statue of Lincoln stands facing one corner of the square, ...
... and another does some relaxing on a bench in another corner of the square.
We were following a little tour that Debbie made up using highlights from Roadside America and TripAdvisor. Behold, a statue made from car bumpers, titled "White-tailed Deer." It stands in front of the Illinois State Visitors Center near the Capitol complex.
We passed Boone's Saloon, ...
... with its adorable pair of tiny horses out front.
We saw Proud Raven Totem Pole, a fiberglass replica created in the 1930s of a wooden totem pole carved in the 1880s. A second replica is at Saxman Totem Park near Ketchikan. That's Abraham Lincoln's likeness at the very top.
Our next stop was the exterior of the current State Capitol building. Current? Yes, dear reader, be patient.
Here's a beautiful mosaic created in a rainbow of colors.
Here's a monument to firefighters ...
... and here's a monument to police officers.
But we were here to see the 9/11 monument. It pictures firefighters raising the American flag on the front, ...
... the Pentagon around back, ...
... the World Trade Center on one side, ...
... and United Airlines Flight 93 on the other, ...
... with Pittsburgh misspelled on the map of Pennsylvania below it. Oops!
Here's a nicer shot of the Capitol.
Our next stop was the Springfield Amtrak station.
It, too, was deserted. We went around to the back by the railroad tracks.
There's an Abraham Lincoln monument here, created in 2010. There's an etching of Lincoln's funeral train in front.
The top is carved as an open book which reads, "May 3, 1865, 9:00 A.M. On this site, countless mourners stood in solemn witness as the Chicago and Alton Railroad Engine No. 58 arrived pulling the funeral train carrying the remains of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States."
Before leaving, we peeked into the passenger waiting area inside.
We stopped to see this pixelated mural of Lincoln painted on a building wall in 2013.
Next, we spent some time near the grounds of the Old Capitol Building. You may take this to mean that there was an old Capitol building and a new one. But in fact, this was the fifth building that served as Illinois' capitol during its statehood, so this should be called Just Another Old Capitol Building. Even worse, it's not even the actual building - it's a reconstruction of the fifth one, so it really should be called A Copy of One of the Old Capitol Buildings.
There are statues of Lincoln with his wife and two of his sons on the pedestrian plaza in front of A Copy of One of the Old Capitol Buildings. We had come here to see a Donner Party monument but weren't having any luck, so it's nice that we saw these instead.
Tom took his mighty sleeve and cleared off the snow from the sign behind the statues.
The plaque on the building behind Tom notes that Lincoln wrote his first presidential inaugural address in that building. This town must be covered with similar plaques. "Lincoln mailed some letters here." "Lincoln enjoyed spaghetti in this restaurant." "Lincoln took a left turn here."
The sign that Tom cleared of snow states that Lincoln settled in Springfield in 1837 when he was 28 years old, and lived his life and built his career in the buildings around this square. In this photo, you can see the statue of the second Lincoln child across the plaza, playing catch with his brother.
We finally gave up on finding the Donner Party memorial, so we headed south, passing the Capitol Building once again. Then we changed our mind and decided to turn around and head back to the plaza, this time, turning to the internet for better clues as to what we were looking for and where we should look.
This unique building stands out on the Springfield skyline. It was originally known as the Forum 30 because it is 30 stories tall, but is currently the Wyndham Hotel.
On our way back to the plaza, we passed Maldaner's Restaurant, the place that we were told catered most of the parties at the Dana-Thomas House.
We returned to the Old Capitol Building pedestrian plaza. We happened across Senator Tammy Duckworth's headquarters, which was pretty cool to see.
We were determined to find the Donner Party monument this time. Had we known on our first visit that it was just a plaque, we might have sifted through all of the various commemorative plaques on the walls of this small building to find it.
We were expecting a nice sculpture of some happy, well-fed pioneers ready to move West, but instead, it is the top plaque on the left in this photo, blending in with numerous Lincoln plaques.
The plaque reads, "Lincoln Square marks the departure point of the Donner Party on April 15 1846 for their ill-fated trip to California. Placed by WaBose Society, Children of the American Revolution April 15 1957."
We left the plaza again. On nearly every block, there was a sign or a building with either Lincoln's head or name.
We passed the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. We didn't realize that it was a whole neighborhood of historic buildings. But we weren't in the mood for history.
We were in the mood for food. Immediately.
We stopped at Lulu's Diner, ...
... a friendly place with great servers.
This Dodge Charger ad on the wall by our booth had an unfortunate case of apostrophe misuse: "It's good enough for the Duke's." For the Duke's what? What? Seriously, people, there's no need to add a possessive apostrophe just to make something plural.
Oh, yes, food. Debbie had the most delicious Salisbury steak ever, and Tom had a Mexican omelette skillet. We wish this restaurant was located a little closer to home.
En route to our next stop, we passed Mel-O-Cream Donuts. It was already closed and we were already full, but it would have been nice to stop at this local donut chain.
Our next destination was the Lawrence Memorial Library, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Like the Dana-Thomas House, it was commissioned by Susan Lawrence Dana, but this was in honor of her father. The library was built inside a primary school named after her father (now the Lawrence Education Center). It wasn't open, so we weren't able to go inside nor were we able to figure out for certain where it was located, other than that it was on the right side of the building in this photo. Oh, well.
We were also unsuccessful at our next stop, but we did pass this colorful wall on our way.
Sadly, reports of a huge green elephant stored on this little plot of land turned out to no longer be true.
So, we continued down Historic Route 66 to our next point of interest, ...
... a huge pink elephant wearing glasses and holding a martini. Rumor has it that there is one of these near us in the Indianapolis area but as of this writing, we haven't visited it yet.
It was close to 2:00 PM when we started heading home. But Springfield had one more Lincoln sign for us to photograph.
Moments later, Debbie spotted a bald eagle in a tree near open water. Of course, she wasn't prepared and didn't get a photo, but here's a photo of some random trees a mile or so down the road.
This oil rig was the only interesting thing we saw on the remainder of our trip home.

** THE END **


Minnesota February 2019: [Day 1 - Red Wing] [Day 2 - White Bear Lake] [Day 3 - Springfield]

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