Remove Lightning Rods and Cables from Lincoln Home (HS-01) Roof

Lincoln Home National Historic Site » Remove Lightning Rods and Cables from Lincoln Home (HS-01) Roof » Document List

When Abraham Lincoln added the second floor to his house in 1855-56, one of the first things to happen was a lightening strike on New Years Eve 1856 that started a small fire in the attic. There was no extensive damage to the house but Lincoln had a lightening rod system installed shortly after. To maintain the Home's historic appearance, a copper cable and rod system was installed on the Lincoln Home (HS-01) as part of the 1987-1988 restoration. However it was installed so that the cables leading from the rod on the North gable end were threaded into the attic through a hole in the north elevation siding. The cables were routed back out of the attic in another hole about 10" below and continued down the side of the house on the north side where it was grounded. If a lightening strike were to occur, the lightening would run along the cable into the attic but basic physics of lightening will not allow it to bend along the cable and will instead most likely cause a fire in the attic of the Lincoln Home. This project will remove the rods, located on the tops of the 4 chimneys- -north and south gable ends, on the north side of the back wing chimney and the kitchen chimney- -and in the corners and edges of the galvanized tin roof on the back wing. All cables will also be removed for safety.

Because the park is currently closed to the public and to minimize staff time in the park, park staff will remove the rods and cabling and patch any holes with silicon only. A replacement system or alternative materials that create the appearance of the historic lightening protection system will be considered at a later date.

Contact Information

Jason Taylor, 217-391-3235