American House (Springfield, IL)

City: Springfield

County: Sangamon

State: IL

Elijah Iles built the American House, a three-story brick building, on the southeast corner of Sixth and Adams streets in Springfield, and it opened for business as a hotel in November 1838. At the time, it was the largest hotel in Illinois. J. Clifton was the first to operate the hotel, but others followed over the years, including the firms of Lesure & Bliss and Miller & Cannon. The hotel offered accommodations and meals to travelers, but it was also the site of social and civil events, like elections, balls, and theater productions in Springfield. It was a busy hotel, especially when the Illinois General Assembly was in session. One visitor from Ohio called the American House the "tavern proper for the Legislators." In one week in October 1839, 158 persons registered at the hotel; and that December when the General Assembly convened, the hotel was so crowded that some visitors could not find available rooms. In June 1842, the hotel hosted former president Martin Van Buren when he visited Springfield.

John Carroll Power and S. A. Power, History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois (Springfield, IL: Edwin A. Wilson, 1876), 399; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 1 December 1838, 2:2; 20 March 1840, 3:3; 17 April 1840, 3:1; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 2 January 1851, 1:2; Invitation to Cotillion Party at the American House; Public Notice of an Election in the City of Springfield; Paul M. Angle, “Here I Have Lived”: A History of Lincoln’s Springfield 1821-1865 (Springfield, IL: Abraham Lincoln Association, 1955), 80, 83, 88, 106.