The Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site stands just south of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion at 603 South Fifth Street, on the corner of Fifth and Edwards in Springfield, Illinois. The Home was built in the early to mid-1840s by Henry Dresser, the man who sold Abraham Lincoln his home just a few blocks to the east.
In 1853, the Home was sold to Clark Moulton Smith and his wife, Ann Todd, the younger sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln was guest in the Home on several occasions, including a gala send-off reception the night before he left Springfield for Washington. In January 1861, Mr. Smith, a clothing merchant by trade, accompanied Mary Todd Lincoln to New York City in order to select a wardrobe befitting the First Lady of the United States.
Dr. Vachel Thomas Lindsay and his wife Catharine Frazee purchased the Home in 1878, and Nicholas Vachel was born in the lower floor’s northeast bedroom on November 10, 1879. In 1893, the Lindsays added a significant addition to the original L-shaped structure. In 1929, Vachel returned to the Home with his young family. The family’s stay was brief, as Elizabeth and her two children moved to an apartment following Vachel’s death in 1931.
Olive Lindsay Wakefield, Vachel’s older sister, lived in the Home following the death of her husband in the 1940s until her own death in 1957. The Vachel Lindsay House Fund then purchased the Home, and retired English teacher Elizabeth E. Graham served as volunteer curator from 1958 to 1978. During that time, the Home was designated a National Historic Landmark (1971) and placed on the National Register of Historic Places (1972).
When Elizabeth Graham was no longer able to care for the Home, Dennis and Trula Camp served as volunteer curators until the Vachel Lindsay Association resumed oversight in the mid-1980s. In 1990, the Home was given to the State of Illinois, and the site closed for extensive renovation in 1994. The Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site, operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, celebrated its reopening on November 10, 2001, Vachel’s birthday.