Built on the knoll above the sinking spring where many believe the Lincoln cabin originally stood, the Memorial Building at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park was constructed between 1909 and 1911 in an effort by the Lincoln Farm Association to commemorate the life and accomplishments of the sixteenth President of the United States and to protect his “birth cabin.”
Rooted in the architectural forms of ancient Greece and Rome, the Memorial Building was designed by early twentieth century prominent architect John Russell Pope and constructed of Connecticut pink granite and Tennessee marble. Pope’s design of the building included many symbolisms related to Abraham Lincoln, including fifty-six steps leading up to the building to represent the fifty-six years of Lincoln’s life. Sixteen windows in the building and sixteen rosettes on the interior ceiling are there to remind visitors that Lincoln was the sixteenth president. The Beaux-Arts building was designed specifically to house the “symbolic” birth cabin of Abraham Lincoln on the site of Lincoln’s birth.
In 1906 the Lincoln Farm Association began a fund raising campaign for the project in which over 100,000 Americans donated nearly $350,000. The Norcross Brothers Construction Company of Worcester, Massachusetts won the contract for constructing the Memorial Building in 1907 with a bid of $237,101 and construction began on February 12, 1909, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, with the laying of the cornerstone by President Theodore Roosevelt. After over two years of construction President, and Lincoln Farm Association board member, William Howard Taft dedicated the Memorial Building and enshrined “birth cabin” on November 9, 1911, before a crowd of 3,000 people.
Today the Memorial Building continues to fulfill its mission by housing and protecting the “symbolic” birth cabin of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. Over 200,000 people a year come to Lincoln’s birthplace to view the Memorial Building and the enshrined “symbolic” birth cabin contained within.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, Hodgenville, Kentucky