The 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.
The 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 by staircases.
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.
Visitors 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 Vandalia Statehouse.
The Statehouse has double doors that will accommodate a wheelchair. The first floor of the Statehouse is wheelchair accessible, however the second floor is not. A banner is provided with pictures of the second floor for anyone that cannot physically go to the second floor. Tours of the Statehouse average 30 to 45 minutes with some areas having seating available. Additional seating accommodations can be made upon request.
Parking - Street parking is available with an accessible parking space located on the west side of the Statehouse on 4th street. All sidewalks are brick. There is a wheelchair ramp located on the north side of the Statehouse.
Restrooms - An accessible restroom is available on the north/west corner of the Statehouse, SHS grounds.
Service animals are welcome at the Statehouse.