Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Three stops you'll want to make in Springfield

Ever since the week of Lincoln's birthday, I've wanted to tell you all about three of my favorite shops in Springfield. Today, I got just the nudge I needed.

Tinsley's - A Springfield treasure
My journalist friend, Pete Sherman, of The State Journal-Register wrote about Tinsley's Dry Goods, a quaint little shop next to the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices. The store has been in Springfield almost since Lincoln first came to the prairie community. It was established in 1840.

Granted, today's owners haven't been there that long, but Dana and Ron Homann are sure to make you feel at home, answer your questions and share their pride in the legacy of the 16th President.

Be sure to read Pete's article. You'll not only learn about Tinsley's but also about how the Homanns are giving back some of the blessings they're reaping during the bicentennial year.

Turn the corner - Turn the page
Around the corner from Tinsley's is another Springfield treasure. Stepping through the doors of Prairie Archives Antiquarian Booksellers and past the big friendly dog lying in the doorway is like stepping back in time.

The store is just what an antiquarian bookseller's haunt should be. It's old, a bit musty smelling and full of cozy, tattered chairs where you can sit a spell and immerse yourself in books twice as old as you are. It's one of those places the book lover in you will never want to leave.

Owner John Paul and his staff know that. They'll let you wander aimlessly for hours through the stacks, if that's your book hunting style, or help you in the quest, if you're seeking something special.

You don't have to go to the store to buy their books, as they sell them through Abe Books. If you buy online, though, you'll miss the experience, so next time you're in Springfield check it out. You'll be glad you did.

A kid's kind of place
Caddywampus across the street from the Lincoln Home visitor's center is another little shop you won't want to miss. Mr. Lincoln's Inc. Souvenirs & Gifts is bright and clean and uncluttered. It's the kind of gift shop many of us remember from grade school field trips - the kind of place where a kid can find something to buy no matter how little money he's got in his pocket.

The store meanders through several rooms in the basement of an old home. You'll find t-shirts and top hats, pencils and postcards, statues and souvenir spoons, ball caps and busts (of Lincoln, of course).

But even better, you'll find a friendly face - a gent with a child-heart not unlike Lincoln's - to welcome you warmly and brighten your day. On my first trip to the store, the owner, Tom Rebman, and one of his buddies made me feel as if I'd known them forever. They were interested in my visit to Springfield and my passion for Lincoln and they were both full of vinegar. I had so much fun kidding around with them that I didn't want to leave.

I was planning to return to Springfield the following day, grandkids in tow, for a couple events at Lincoln's Home. When I told Rebman and his buddy, they scored lots of extra brownie points in my book. The two acted as if they couldn't believe I had grandkids and guessed my age at ten years younger than I am. Remember, I said they were full of vinegar, but, hey, a gal has to take a compliment when she can get one. I'll take one like that any time - and I'll stop in that shop any day!

I did stop in again - with four kids in tow, ages six to 14. They all had equal amounts to spend, and it didn't take them long to find exactly what they wanted - all different, all fitting their interests, all within their budgets. Yep, that's just the kind of place I want to take my brood. And Rebman had just as much fun kidding them as he did teasing me.

More Lincoln on the horizon
If you're following my blog regularly, I'm afraid I'll let you down the next couple days. I'll be in Springfield for the Lincoln Legacy Lecture series at University of Illinois - Springfield tomorrow night, at the Illinois State Museum for a Lincoln exhibit open house Friday night and at the Lincoln Colloquium on Saturday. Gotta keep learnin' if I'm gonna keep doin' this blog, ya know, so off I go.

Do me a favor. Learn something new about Lincoln yourself this weekend, okay?


Heart of Lincoln Land said...

Tinsley's and Prairie Archives are two of my favorite downtown Springfield haunts and I'm glad you mentioned them. They are awesome. I stop in those places so much that they owners are like my friends.

There's also Springfield Novelties and Gifts, the Blue Door and the Studio on 6th. The latter two are local artists co-ops that have some local Lincoln art. I stop in Springfield Novelties a lot - they have some Lincoln items and they're a great place to find something that you need but that you forgot. The owners there are very friendly too. I probably should make my own post about "favorite Springfield haunts", there's just so many...

I'll also be at the Lincoln Legacy lecture tomorrow, I go to those every year, and probably also the Symposium. Maybe I'll see you there!

Lincoln Buff 2 said...


You should write about your favorite haunts. Being from Springfield, you'd bring a unique perspective.

Hope to meet you tonight. I'll be wearing a pink blouse and tan sweater. If we don't catch each other before, please look me up at the reception afterwards.

Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ann,
I like to read your posts because I'm always learning new things about Lincoln and Springfield. I intend to return to Springfield some day, I don't know when, but this time I will have several new places to visit.
Have a great weekend.
Sebastiao Albano

Lincoln Buff 2 said...


Sorry I didn't get your comment posted sooner. I went straight from work to Springfield. I hope you get to come back someday, too. You'd love the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Libary and Museum.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Yes, Ann,
That's my biggest dream now. To know the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library. I don't know when yet, but some day I will fulfill that dream.


ENNYMAN said...

You're going to make us come to Springfield yet!
Thanks for the good stuff you continually share.

Lincoln Buff 2 said...

Thanks, Ed. Hope you do make it to Springfield sometime. You'd love it.

Thanks, too, for your kind words. I sure enjoy reading your blog, too, and am in awe of your artistic talent.

Take care,