Vandalia State House, the fourth Illinois statehouse, served as
the capitol from 1836 until 1839 and is the oldest surviving capitol
building in the state. The first (1818-1820) was at Kaskaskia, the
state’s first capital. The second (1820-1823), third (1824-1836),
and fourth (1836-1839) were at Vandalia. The fifth (1839-1876) is
in Springfield and is preserved as the Old State Capitol State Historic
Site. The sixth is the current capitol (1876-present) in Springfield.
Vandalia State House is significant for its association with Abraham
Lincoln, who served in the House of Representatives. In 1974 the
State House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located in the center of a city block in downtown Vandalia, the
State House is a two-story structure of painted brick. Porticoes
on the north and south sides of the “restored” building
reproduce those added in the 1850s. The first floor contains a large
entry hall and rooms representing the offices of the Auditor, Treasurer,
and Secretary of State, as well as the Supreme Court chamber. The
second floor is composed of a central hall and recreated House and
Senate chambers, each of which contains a visitor gallery reached
The square on which the building is located is handsomely landscaped,
with many trees. A large statue, the “Madonna of the Trail,”
owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution and dedicated
in 1928, is located on the southwest corner. It commemorates Vandalia
as the official terminus of the historic National Road.
are offered guided tours through the building or can view the historically
furnished rooms on their own. Informational signs describing each
room are located in the hall. A small exhibit in the first floor
hall outlines Abraham Lincoln’s connection with the State
House. From May through September, interpreters are in 1830s period
dress Thursday through Sunday. The building's first floor is accessible
to persons with disabilities; the second floor is not.
Vandalia Statehouse co-hosts event including an annual “Lincoln
Birthday Observance” (February 12) in the Supreme Court chamber,
“The Grande Levee” in June, and a Christmas open house
in December that features guided tours of the candlelit building.
Contact site for details. Programs are supported by the Friends
of the Old State Capitol.