|Winchester Hotel - Winchester, IL
Provided architectural design and construction drawings for a renovation project
for a 150-plus year old hotel in Winchester, IL. Proposed project consisted of a
new restaurant & bar on the 1st floor and hotel rooms on the 2nd floor. The
proposed exterior design is based on the exterior of the Abraham Lincoln home
in Springfield, IL. According to historical record, Abraham Lincoln once visited
this hotel. The Lincoln story is below:
Lincoln Writes Poems to Two Young Girls during the 1858 Campaign
Abraham Lincoln was used to crisscrossing Illinois – the central portion of it,
anyway – for his law practice, but in the late summer and early fall of 1858 his
busy travel schedule grew downright hectic. He was running against Stephen
A. Douglas for a seat in the U.S. Senate, and his campaign schedule barely let
up from the end of August to October.
He was in a different town practically every day. In addition to seven formal
debates with Douglas, Lincoln made dozens of speeches on his own. He
especially liked speaking in a town the day after Douglas had spoken In
September he wrote to William Fithian of Danville and told him he would be
speaking there on September 22, the day after Douglas: “My recent experience
shows that speaking at the same place the next day after D. is the very thing---it
is, in fact, a concluding speech on him.”
After a “fine and altogether satisfactory meeting” in Danville, Lincoln traveled
to Urbana, where he again spoke a day after Douglas, and then home to
Springfield for a weekend at home. On Monday the 27th he spoke in
Jacksonville, and on the 28th left Jacksonville for Winchester.
While in Winchester, Lincoln stayed at a hotel operated by Robert E. Haggard.
Haggard, a 51-year-old native of Kentucky, had seven daughters who ranged in
age from 9 to 26. One of these girls, 21-year-old Rosaline Haggard, was
bold enough to approach Lincoln with a request that he sign her autograph
album. Evidently charmed by her youth, Lincoln wrote the following lines:
You are young, and I am older;
You are hopeful, I am not---
Enjoy life, ere it grow colder---
Pluck the roses ere they rot.
Teach your beau to heed the lay---
That sunshine soon is lost in shade---
That now's as good as any day---
To take thee, Rosa, ere she fade.
Winchester, Sep. 28. 1858. A. Lincoln”
All in all it was a kind of gloomy poem to write to a young girl. Perhaps Lincoln
had asked her if she had a beau or any plans to marry and Rosa confessed to a
young man who was dragging his feet.
The next day Lincoln addressed a crowd gathered at the Scott County
Courthouse. Before departing for Pittsfield on September 30th, Rosaline’s 19-
year-old sister Melinda, or Linnie, also requested a few lines of verse from
Lincoln. As he had with Rosa, Lincoln obliged her with an original composition:
A sweet plaintive song did I hear,
And I fancied that she was the singer---
May emotions as pure, as that song set a-stir
Be the worst that the future shall bring her.
Winchester Sep. 30 1858 A. Lincoln
Rather less of a downer than the earlier poem, Lincon’s lines seem to suggest
that Melinda had entertained the hotel’s company with her singing.
Autographs were a popular way for ever-sentimental Victorians to capture notes,
poems, drawings, and sometimes even the hair of their friends. The earliest
surviving example of Lincoln’s signature in an album dates to February 23 of
1858, when he signed the first page of a book belonging to Henry Rankin, a law
student in his office: “To-day, Feb. 23 1858, the owner honored me with the
privilege of writing the first name in this book. A. Lincoln.
Lincoln would sign his name to several albums as President of the United
States, but never with the beauty and poignancy with which he composed his
verses for the two Haggard sisters of Winchester, Illinois.