He may have been small in stature, but he has a big reputation as the dog that followed Abe Lincoln around downtown Springfield was bigger than life. 

Fido waiting outside of INB

According to the Presidential Pet Museum website, “Fido was a yellowish, mixed-breed dog with floppy ears and a stubby tail . . . Fido often accompanied Lincoln on his walks about town. The pair would stop and chat with neighbors and friends. While Lincoln was in the barber shop, Fido would sit outside with other pets and discuss dog matters, and when there was a parcel to carry, Fido would sometimes do so in his mouth for his master.”

Puppy Make Us Smile

Now, Fido is reappearing in half a dozen downtown Springfield locations thanks to The Fido Puppies Sculpture Project, a collaboration between Downtown Springfield Inc., the Springfield Art Association, and the City of Springfield. Fido is famously the Lincoln family dog who lived in their Springfield home in the 1850s.  The project is designed to make people smile as they hunt for puppy sculptures throughout downtown Springfield. 

In front of INB’s main headquarters in Springfield, you’ll find Fido, seemingly still waiting for Abe to finish his banking.  INB’s Fido was created by artist Erin Svendesen who also serves as the Springfield Art Association’s education director. In addition to creating the art at INB, she guided the puppy project for the association.

All the Fido puppies, and their locations, are listed here:

  • Erin Svendsen with Fido with Bone at INB on Capitol Ave.
  • Samantha Brown with Fido with Flower at the Bicentennial Plaza
  • Betsy Dollar with Fido with Newspaper at The 7th Street Cidery
  • Will Norris with Sad Fido at the SAA Collective
  • Kate Atkinson with Fido with Bowtie at First Presbyterian Church at 321 S. 7th Street
  • Danny Brikshavana with Fido sniffing a Flower Pot at Union Station on 6th Street and Madison

To have a little fun with the pups, Erin says the association hopes to put out a map and wayfinding tours for people to enjoy art walks. “We do not have funding currently to add more Fidos to downtown. If more funding was to be acquired, we will make more puppy sculptures.”

About the Artist, Erin Svendesen

Erin says she’s always been interested in public art. “It is easily accessible to the public, it interacts with the landscape/ cityscape harmoniously, and it's more fun to go big to really be immersed in the artwork. In this case with the Fidos, we wanted them to be more one-to-one in ratio to reality. The Fidos tell the story of how Fido would patiently wait for Lincoln outside of the building he would be visiting.  You always knew where Lincoln was in town since his pup would be sitting there until he was ready to go home.”  

Erin has an BFA degree in Painting and Sculpture from University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign. “I have been in the art field since graduating in 2008,” she says.

In her career, she has helped create much of Springfield’s outdoor art.  She’s worked on theArt Alley, the two Dambo-inspired Trolls (Søvn and Aco) located at Lincoln Memorial Garden, the Lincoln Family Abbey Road crosswalk on Washington and 6th Street, six High School Camp murals, the 4th and Jefferson Vachel Lindsay Poem mural, the Route 66 underpass on 9th Street, Clay's Popeye BBQ Mural, Clearlake Avenue’s Bicentennial Timeline Mural, Wild Rose's Pollinator Mural, and the Dodge Street underpass (between 3rd and 4th) Women's Abstract Artist Mural.

She also started the Paint the Street festival, a fundraiser for Springfield Art Association. She adds she’s also been on committees for murals and sculptures in Springfield and Central Illinois.

When asked, “Is it difficult to get interest in a mural?” she answers: “The main struggle is finding the right place for the public art and finding the funding to support the work”.

Erin explains the Fido project was funded by the City of Springfield. But, she notes, “Funding can come from anywhere: individuals, businesses, organizations, grants, governmental agencies, etc. Having support from the community will help develop more public art for Springfield.”