Edwards Place Historical Home
Edwards Place has been owned and operated by the Springfield Art Association
Edwards Place was one a center for social activity in Springfield. Prominent citizens and politicians such as Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, David Davis, and numerous governors, judges, lawyers, and politicians were entertained at lavish dinner parties and the grounds played host to many summer picnics and political rallies.
Edwards Place was the home of attorney Benjamin Edwards, youngest son of Governor Ninian Edwards and brother-in-law of Mary Lincoln’s sister Elizabeth. Although the Lincolns did not court or marry here, Edwards Place is currently home to the "courting couch" on which Lincoln and Mary Todd sat during the early days of their romance, originally the property of Ninian Edwards.
Helen Edwards's death in 1909 marked the end of the Edwards family's residence at Edwards Place. In 1913, her daughter Alice Edwards Ferguson was approached by members of the Springfield Amateur Art Study Club for permission to rent rooms in Edwards Place as meeting space. Unhappy with the thought of her childhood home sitting empty, Alice surprised them by offering to donate the entire house to serve as meeting, gallery, and classroom space. The Art Study Club was incorporated as the Springfield Art Association of Edwards Place on September 30, 1913, and the house was formally presented at a banquet luncheon two weeks later.
Edwards Place was used as an art gallery until 1937. Art classes were being held in the upstairs bedrooms as late as the 1960s. A full-scale restoration in 2014-2105 restored the first floor to its c. 1857 appearance. Today it is open to the public as an historic house museum interpreting the social and domestic life of Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois.