Category Archives: Architecture

The Elks Club Group (1952)

Adlai Stevenson II’s 1952 presidential campaign attracted the most talented, eloquent political team ever assembled in Springfield (well, except for Abraham Lincoln working by himself). Stevenson’s team of speechwriters and idea men (there apparently were no women) was known as … Continue reading

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Hotel Abraham Lincoln opens (1925)

The Hotel Abraham Lincoln opened in 1925 with 300 rooms, a five-piece house band, its own radio station, and lavish décor. And, it turned out, with lousy timing. “The Abe,” which was on the southwest corner of Fifth Street and … Continue reading

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Haskell Viaduct (Illinois State Fairgrounds)

The Haskell Viaduct was a pedestrian bridge that connected the Exposition Building to the Poultry Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds from 1897 until, probably, the mid-1920s. The Poultry Building (today’s Artisans Building) also was completed in 1897, but in … Continue reading

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The Helmle family, architects and builders

Three generations of the Helmle family left their mark on the built environment of Springfield. The original Helmles in Springfield were George William Helmle, a skilled woodcarver from Germany, and his wife, Elise Marschutz Helmle, who arrived in Springfield in … Continue reading

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Patrick Henry statue, St. Joseph School

The mystery of what happened to St. Joseph School’s statue of Patrick Henry may never be solved. But the question of how a life-sized marble sculpture of a Protestant patriot happened to stand above the entrance of a Catholic school … Continue reading

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Carl Rinnus, popular sculpture

Carl Rinnus (1912-93) is best known as the sculptor/fabricator of the giant fiberglass statue of Abraham Lincoln that stands just inside the Main Gate at the Illinois State Fair. He also created another locally famous piece of Springfield sculpture, the … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Arts and letters, Department stores, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures | 5 Comments

Lustron all-steel homes

More than 4,000 people viewed Springfield’s first all-steel Lustron home when it opened for public inspection on June 26, 1949. The demonstration home at 2255 S. College St. was the first of five that eventually were built in Springfield and … Continue reading

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Price-Prather House, Williamsville (National Register)

Williamsville’s Price-Prather House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places partly for its architectural features, but the building’s early owners, especially J. Frank Prather (1859-1927), played major roles in development of the beef cattle industry in Sangamon County, … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Architecture, Buildings, Farming, Historic Sites, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

Ben F. Caldwell: politician, farmer, banker

Ben Franklin Caldwell (1848-1924) was a member of Congress and the Illinois legislature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He also was a farmer, banker and civic leader whose donations helped build schools in both Chatham and Thayer. … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Business, Fires, Historic Sites, Politics, Prominent figures, Schools and school districts | 3 Comments

Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum

The Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum was a huge hit when it first opened to fairgoers in 1901. But not huge enough, because the building had to be substantially expanded only two years later. The Coliseum, declared unsafe for use in … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, National Register, State government | 8 Comments