Category Archives: Hotels & taverns

Pensacola

“Pensacola” was the name given to a tiny, unincorporated community in Cotton Hill Township, southeast of Springfield, in the 1800s. The area is designated for inundation if and when Hunter Lake is ever created as a backup water source for … Continue reading

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Pizza in Springfield

Springfieldians got their first taste of pizza at The Wonder Inn tavern, 808 E. Washington St., in 1947. Fred and Anna Viele, who operated The Wonder Inn, began marketing “La Pizza” as “something new and tasty from Italy” in February … Continue reading

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Dineen family (hoteliers)

When Robert Dineen died in 1970, his obituary stated he had been an owner of the Palmer Hotel and the Illinois Hotel in downtown Springfield. Although not mentioned in the obituary, he also was the past president and a founding … Continue reading

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The Lake Club

NOTE: This entry has been edited. See below. The Lake Club, 2840 Fox Road, brought top national performers – Mickey Rooney, the Mills Brothers, Guy Lombardo, Pearl Bailey, Lawrence Welk and many more – to Springfield in the 1940s, ‘50s … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Law enforcement, Prominent figures, Social life | 9 Comments

Dudley Hotel

The Negro Motorist Green Book, a nationwide guide for the African-American traveler, for 20 years listed only one hotel in Springfield as open to blacks: the Dudley Hotel, 130 S. 11th St. The Dudley and its predecessors at the same … Continue reading

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Leland Hotel

The Leland Hotel, on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Capitol Avenue, played host to travelers, party-goers, celebrities and politicians for 103 years in Springfield. The hotel probably got its most extensive public notice when it served as national … Continue reading

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Johnny Connors (boxer, saloon-keeper)

Johnny Connors – boxer, saloon-keeper and sportsman – was small in stature, but he played an outsize role in Springfield for nearly 80 years. Connors (1867-1966) was born John O’Connor in Ireland, but boxed as Johnny Connors. He never legally changed … Continue reading

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Late-night Springfield, 1935

J. Emil Smith wrote a daily column, “Making Conversation,” for more than 28 years, starting when he became editor of the Illinois State Journal in 1930. Much of the column was made up of briefs, jokes, poems and birthday notices for friends … Continue reading

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Jack Johnson (boxing champion)

“Battle royals” in Springfield were a springboard to fame for boxer Jack Johnson, who went on to become the first African-American heavyweight champion. Johnson (1878-1946) was tutored in Springfield by Johnny Connors (1867-1966), a  boxer himself as well as a … Continue reading

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Hotel Normandie

The Hotel Normandie, 311-15 S. Fourth St., opened in May 1896 under the management of “old hotel man” M.M. Armstrong, the Illinois State Journal reported. The interior of the building has recently been thoroughly remodeled and renovated, finished off with … Continue reading

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