Hidden in Plain Sight:
The Material World of Early Springfield


Edward Lewis Baker House

South Second Street
c. 1855-1860

Photo courtesy of Richard E. Hart

Ninian W. Edwards built this house on his property on South Second Street for his daughter Julia and her husband Edward L. Baker. This house, plus the interest Edwards bought his son-in-law in the Illinois State Journal, cost Ninian a whopping $14,000, forcing him to approach his brother-in-law, President Elect Abraham Lincoln, for a loan in 1860.

Julia seemed to have inherited her father’s extravagence. In 1860 Mercy Conkling noted in a letter to her son “Mrs Baker, Bailhache & Fowler are rivals, each one trying to out do the other in fine furniture, house and grounds…Mr & Mrs Baker have just returned from New York, where they have been purchasing handsome clothing and elegant furniture. As Mrs Edwards remarked to me (I mean Mrs B. mother) there is no end to their extravagance.”