History of the Tomb
Dedicated in 1874
Lincoln Tomb is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary, and three of their four sons, Edward, William, and Thomas. Their eldest son, Robert T. Lincoln, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Also on the site is the public receiving vault. Constructed ca. 1860 and the scene of funeral services for Abraham Lincoln on May 4, 1865, the vault is located at the base of a hill north of the Tomb. In 1960 the Tomb was designated a National Historic Landmark and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
The 117-foot Tomb, designed by sculptor Larkin Mead, is constructed of brick sheathed with Quincy granite. The base is 72-foot square with large semi-circular projections on the north and south sides. Double sets of north and south stairs lead to a terrace, above which rises the obelisk. At the corners of the shaft, large pedestals serve as bases for four bronze sculptures, each with a group of figures representing one of the four Civil War services—infantry, artillery, cavalry, and navy. A taller base on the obelisk’s south side holds a heroic bronze statue of Lincoln. At the Tomb entrance is a bronze reproduction of Gutzon Borglum’s marble head of Lincoln, located in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Interior rooms of the Tomb are finished in a highly polished marble trimmed with bronze. The south entrance opens into a rotunda, where hallways lead into the burial chamber. The rotunda and corridors contain reduced-scale reproductions of important Lincoln statues as well as plaques with excerpts from Lincoln’s Springfield farewell speech, the Gettysburg Address, and his Second Inaugural Address. Lincoln’s remains rest in a concrete vault ten feet below the marble floor of the burial chamber. A massive granite cenotaph marking the gravesite is flanked by the Presidential flag and flags of the states in which the Lincoln family resided. Crypts in the chamber’s south wall hold the remains of Lincoln’s wife and three of their sons.
The remains of President Lincoln and his son Willie were placed and kept in the Receiving Vault from May 4 through December 21 1865. From December 21 1865 through September 19 1871, the President and his two sons, Eddie and Willie, were moved into a temporary above-ground tomb constructed on the northeast side of the hill where the current tomb now stands. The President’s youngest son, Thomas ("Tad”), died on July 15 1871 and was the first to be interred in the Monument, followed by his father and his two brothers on September 19 1871. Mary Lincoln passed away at her sister's home in Springfield on July 16 1882 and was laid to rest with her martyred husband and dear sons a few days later.