John and Lucy Speed built their home, Farmington, in 1816. Nearly sixty enslaved African Americans worked the 550-acre hemp plantation. Despite’s Speed’s obvious pro-slavery stance, his son Joshua and Abraham Lincoln became friends in 1837. Joshua Speed and Lincoln lived together for four years in Springfield, Illinois. In 1841, Lincoln visited Farmington for three weeks and met Speed’s brother James Speed, who would become Lincoln’s Attorney General in 1864. Over the years, Farmington has been renovated and restored. Today, visitors can see the house, an elaborate garden, barn, blacksmith shop, carriage house, and cook’s quarters on site.
Farmington also has possible
links to another U.S. president: Thomas Jefferson. Lucy’s family was friends
with Jefferson and there is some evidence that he might have helped design Farmington.
The plans for the house were drawn up by Paul Skidmore, but they are remarkably
similar to plans designed by Jefferson. The final product was a fourteen-room, Federal-style
mansion. Recent work on the house has restored its original paint colors,
wallpaper, and carpets. The house is furnished with antiques from the period.
The interior also features carved mantles, glass details, and marbleized baseboards.