Category Archives: Arts and letters

North Side State Bank collapse, 1927

The North Side State Bank operated from 1920 to 1927, when state auditors ordered it closed in the wake of a complicated financial scandal involving two banks, three insurance companies, and a former Springfield resident who may have absconded with … Continue reading

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Springfield Muni Opera

The Springfield Muni Opera’s earliest ancestor was a play named “Good News,” performed by the Springfield Municipal Choir at Lanphier Park on July 28, 1938. But today’s outdoor community musical theater more accurately dates from a presentation of “Bye Bye … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Arts and letters, Local government, Prominent figures, Social life | 8 Comments

Illinois State Fair, 1915

Rain washed out car races and some other activities scheduled for opening day of the 1915 Illinois State Fair, but the fair’s big controversy focused on a different, and unlikely, topic: china painting. The fair was held in September during … Continue reading

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Bobby Watson (movies’ Hitler)

Bobby Watson (1888-1965), born Robert Kuecher in Springfield, portrayed Adolf Hitler in movies more times (nine) than any other Hollywood actor. The most  colorful account of Watson’s show business career is his IMDB biography, which says Watson got his showbiz start at … Continue reading

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Hall-Hagler chapter, Disabled American Veterans

Springfield’s Hall-Hagler chapter of the Disabled American Veterans is named in honor of two World War I casualties who hailed from the city. Sgt. Joe Hall (1891-1918) died during the waning hours of the war – at 8:45 a.m. on … Continue reading

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‘The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotus’ (Vachel Lindsay)

Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay wrote The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotus in 1912 to recognize the importance of the Panama Canal, which connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The rose signifies the West and the lotus the East. … Continue reading

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‘Poor House Rules’ — the drawings of Alfred S. Harkness

Alfred S. Harkness (1866-1941) was an artist, illustrator and engraver whose specialty — at least for part of the time he lived in Springfield — was public health illustration. Harkness had been a member of the artist staff of the … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Illustrations, Media, Medicine, Prominent figures, Public health, Social services, Springfield Survey | Leave a comment

Springfield, 1916 (map)

The Capitol Engraving Co. artists who created this map of 1916 Springfield for the Sangamon County Abstract Co. were Alfred S. Harkness and Frank Melin (credits, top left corner). Green areas are parkland. The red lines denote trolley routes. Original … Continue reading

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Lincoln Library Carnegie building, 1904-74

Springfield residents fondly remember the city’s Carnegie library, opened in 1904 and demolished in 1974, for some of the same features that ultimately made the building unsuitable as a library. The library was memorably described by Margaret Boswell in an … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Arts and letters, Buildings, Local government | 6 Comments

Springfield Library Association

The forerunner of today’s Lincoln Library was the Springfield Library Association, a private library supported by membership dues and donation. (Lincoln Library, Springfield’s public library, should not be confused with the state-operated Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.) But even its creation, … Continue reading

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