Cook's Hall

Cook's Hall (HMWQJ)

Location: Springfield, IL 62701 Sangamon County
Country: United States of America

N 39° 48.05', W 89° 38.883'

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When it opened in 1858, Cook's Hall became the largest of Springfield's public halls. Its gas-lighted auditorium and gallery were the grandest in the region. A wealthy soap and candle manufacturer, John Cook, built the hall following a devastating fire that burned down a large portion of this block. Cook proudly christened his new building "Illiopolitan Hall." Townspeople preferred the less grandiose title of "Cook's Hall." It was here in April 1860—in the midst of presidential politics—- that Abraham Lincoln delivered his scientific lecture, "Discoveries and Inventions," for the final time.

Political and religious events were important public entertainments in Lincoln's day—-but people also enjoyed fairs, militia drills, parades, circuses, dances, dinner parties, concerts, plays, and lectures. Initially such events were held outdoors. But as villages became more citified, residents built spacious indoor meeting places. Cook's Hall was one of several public halls that graced the capital city at various times from the mid-1830s to the Civil War. the Hall opened with a vocal recital in December 1858. Over the next two years visiting theatrical troupes, military drill teams, musical ensembles, magicians, scientists, authors, poets, artists, world travelers, and other lecturers appeared here—-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Greeley, Henry Ward Beecher, and Theodore Parker among them. The notorious Lola Montez—-dancer, actress, and former mistress of the King of Bavaria—-set disapproving tongues wagging with her lecture on "Fashion" to a packed hall in the spring of 1860.

American Heavyweight champion John C. Heenan reportedly visited presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln in October 1860. Republican newspapers assured readers that Heenan was a "warm admirer" of Lincoln. Democratic newspapers countered that only the "lower classes" followed boxing. Heenan put on an exhibition match here the following December to a sold-out house. Boxing was a bare-knuckled sport in those days, and both Heenan and his opponent left for St. Louis after the fight to recuperate from their injuries. We don't know if Lincoln or his sons attended. As a former wrestler Lincoln may have wished to; Mary would probably have considered it beneath the dignity of the president-elect.

Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 12th, 2014 at 12:39am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 273293 N 4409006
Decimal Degrees39.80083333, -89.64805000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 48.05', W 89° 38.883'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 48' 3.00" N, 89° 38' 52.98" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 98-198 S 6th St, Springfield IL 62701, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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