Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ethel Mars, artist, bohemian

Gertrude Stein’s prose-poem “Miss Furr and Miss Skene” was the first literary use of the word “gay” in the context of a same-sex relationship. The woman Stein called “Miss Furr” was patterned on Springfield-born artist and bohemian Ethel Mars (1876-1956?); … Continue reading

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Illinois State Fair cancelled, 1942

Farmers, horse race owners and state officials scrambled for alternatives when World War II forced cancellation of the 1942 Illinois State Fair. A couple of months after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army Air Forces leased the state fairgrounds for use … Continue reading

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Albert Booth family, wagon makers

The A. Booth and Son Wagon Factory once dominated the northeast corner of Eighth and Washington Streets in Springfield. The factory was built by Albert Booth (1813-1873), who moved his family from Menard to Sangamon County around 1840. He first … Continue reading

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Charles Longest, stickup artist and Army hero

Charles Longest was in state prison, accused of being the mastermind of an ambitious Springfield robbery gang, when he was judged fit to serve in World War II. See Springfield stickup gang, 1938. 

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‘Big Tent Theatre’ photographs

These photos apparently are publicity stills produced when the Depression-era Federal Theatre Project played a season of live, professional theater in a tent at West Grand Avenue (today’s MacArthur Boulevard) and Outer Park Drive in 1936. The venue was known … Continue reading

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Carnegie library pillars

The five limestone columns that face the courtyard of the Washington Park Horticulture Center make up the last exterior remains of Springfield’s old Carnegie library. Andrew Carnegie paid part of the construction cost of the old library, which opened in … Continue reading

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‘The Big Tent Theatre’, 1936

The Big Tent Theatre, one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-relief programs, played to packed houses at West Grand Avenue (today’s MacArthur Boulevard) and Outer Park Drive in 1936. The Big Tent was formally part of the Federal Theatre Project, which … Continue reading

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A.L. Bowen, newspaperman & social service leader

A.L. (the initials stood for Archibald Leonard) Bowen traded careers between newspapering and social services, and he reached the top in both endeavors. Read about him in SangamonLink’s entry about the Palace Hotel.

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The Palace Hotel

In the late 1800s, Springfield’s Palace Hotel had a great location at Fourth and Washington streets, a half-block from the Chicago & Alton railroad station (today’s Amtrak station). For a while, the Palace was one of the city’s premier hostelries. … Continue reading

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John Hancock, early poet

In at least one scholar’s opinion, Springfield storekeeper John Hancock was “the finest poet of the frontier, in not only Illinois but the entire Midwest.” See “Huyler’s Ghost,” a poem by “H.”, 1832. 

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