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
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.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 39° 48.05′ N, 89° 38.883′ W. Marker is in Springfield, Illinois, in Sangamon County. Marker is at the intersection of S. 6th Street and E, Adams Street on S. 6th Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Springfield IL 62701, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Corneau & Diller Drug Store (here, next to this marker); Old State Capitol (a few steps from this marker); The Lincoln Boys in 1854 (a few steps from this marker); Streetscape 1859 (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln's Springfield (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices (within shouting distance of this marker); In Their Springfield Prime (within shouting distance of this marker); The Bath & Barber Shop (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springfield.
Categories. • Entertainment • Notable Places •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 20, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 433 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 20, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.