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Carl Sandburg

Note: Carl Sandburg State Historic Site will be closed September 24th-25th, 2022.

Teachers in Illinois schools (grades prekindergarten through 12) can apply for grant funds to visit this site on a field trip with their students. Click here for the details.


The Carl Sandburg State Historic Site is the birthplace of Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Lincoln biographer, a children’s author and folk song collector. Son of a Swedish immigrant who worked as a blacksmith’s assistant at the nearby CB&Q railroad shops, Sandburg attended local primary schools and Galesburg’s Lombard College. His first books of poetry were published in Galesburg.

The small frame home, architecturally significant as a “workingman’s cottage,” contains three rooms—parlor, bedroom, and kitchen. Carl Sandburg was born here January 6, 1878. Several original family items are on display, along with other simple, utilitarian furnishings typical of the era.

Behind the cottage is a tranquil garden where the ashes of Sandburg and his wife lie beneath a red granite boulder, “Remembrance Rock,” the title of his only novel. Benches and garden plantings contribute to the quiet solitude of the area. A series of flagstones inscribed with quotations from Sandburg’s writings is known as “Quotation Walk.”

Sandburg Birthplace

Also on the site is a two-story Greek Revival frame house built in 1858. The house currently serves as the site visitor center. On the main floor are a small video theater, the site office, a museum shop, public restroom, and small exhibit gallery.

Guided tours of the cottage are conducted upon request. In the visitor center, guests may tour the exhibit gallery, shop at the museum store, and view a video on Sandburg that was produced from the television program “The Day Carl Sandburg Died.” Visitors may view the garden behind the cottage, and a free brochure is available that identifies the Sandburg quotations displayed along “Quotation Walk.” The visitor center’s first floor and the barn are accessible to persons with disabilities.

The site hosts special events including “Songbag Folk Concerts” and the “Sandburg Days Festival” in April. The Carl Sandburg Historic Site Association supports site programs.

For more site information visit:

Accessibility Information

The following are available for the visitor to the site:

  • The parking lot is Gravel. There is one space marked accessible. There is a sidewalk immediately adjacent to parking lot. There are no ramps as parking lot is level with sidewalk. 
  • The sidewalks are made of boardwalk and paver bricks. Paving Bricks may be uneven. The boardwalk is132 feet in front of Visitor’s Center and Cottage. 69 feet of boardwalk from parking lot to Visitor Center wheelchair ramp. 
  • Office is in the Visitor’s Center and is accessible by wheelchair ramp.
  • Motorized wheelchairs and scooters are welcomed in Visitor’s Center, Barn, and on walkways. Segway’s not permitted. 
  • Restrooms in Visitor’s Center are accessible. 
  • Service animals are welcomed. No outdoor water fountains for service animals at Site. 
  • Ramp on east entrance of Visitor’s Center. No push-button door. Restroom is wheelchair accessible. No water fountains. Benches provided to sit on. Tactile exhibits provided involving photographs, and oversized Life Magazine, and stereoscope. No audio or headphones available.
  • Doorway to Visitor’s Center and Barn accessible by wheelchair. Sandburg Cottage doorways not accessible. Wheelchair ramp provided to Visitor’s Center. Barn is level with walkway. No ramp to Sandburg Cottage. Must climb 3 stairs to enter Sandburg Cottage. Visitor Center and Barn are self-guided. Tours of Sandburg Cottage last 10 minutes. Places to sit provided in Visitor’s Center, Barn, and Cottage. 

There is a 16-minute video available about the Site in the Visitor’s Center for people who are physically unable to access the Sandburg Cottage. However, it is not close captioned. Paving Bricks may be uneven. Boardwalks slippery when wet.