Category Archives: Social life

Doc Helm, photographer

Eddie Winfred “Doc” Helm, whose striking photographs documented African-American life in Springfield for 50 years, started his career as the man responsible for raising and lowering the flag over the Illinois Statehouse. Helm (1911-94), who grew up in Mount Vernon, … Continue reading

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Slovenians in Sangamon County

In 1909, Slovenian immigrants Josef Grobelnik and Bartol Ramschak operated a popular tavern on South 15th Street. At the time, southeast Springfield was filled with young Eastern European families—most of them new arrivals to the U.S. While Grobelnik and Ramschak … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Churches, Crime and vice, Ethnic groups, Hotels & taverns, Social life | 4 Comments

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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Springfield wins minor-league baseball game, 33-23 (1926)

Baseball-mad Springfieldians got more than their money’s worth on July 20, 1926, both on the field and in the next day’s newspaper story. The Springfield Senators, the local entry in the Class B Three-I League, outslugged the Peoria Tractors that … Continue reading

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Riverton Athletic Club

The mammoth home run Robin Roberts hit on Oct. 14, 1951, remains a highlight in the 80-year history of the Riverton Athletic Club. Roberts, a Springfield native who had just completed the second of his six 20-win seasons as a … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Parks, Social life, Sports and recreation | 1 Comment

Dan Patch sets state fair race record (1906)

An estimated 40,000 people watched Dan Patch, the world’s most famous harness horse, set a new Illinois State Fair pacing record on Oct. 2, 1906. Dan Patch covered the one-mile fairgrounds track in 1:59¼, the first time a harness horse … Continue reading

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Fashions in men’s hats, 1904 (John Lutz store)

Hats were a high-fashion item for men in 1904, and John Lutz, one of downtown’s longest-lasting hatters and haberdashers, offered a lot of choices. When he died, Lutz (1856-1921) had sold men’s clothing from the same address, 204 S. Sixth … Continue reading

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Buffalo Hart Presbyterian Church

When European settlers first came to the Buffalo Hart area in 1824, the most noticeable feature of the landscape was a large grove of trees surrounded by prairie. Most of the early residents built their homes on the edge of … Continue reading

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Douglass Community Center

The Douglass Community Center offered civic, social and educational opportunities to African-American residents of Springfield when most similar organizations were closed to blacks. The Douglass center (apparently named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass) opened in 1926. It was phased out as … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Buildings, Children, Ethnic groups, Local government, Social life, Social services, Sports and recreation | Leave a comment