Category Archives: Amusements

Theodore Lorch, actor

Theodore Lorch, who spent his teenage years in Springfield, was a film and stage actor whose busy career spanned the 1900s through the 1940s. Although he had leading roles in such movies as the 1920 version of “Last of the … Continue reading

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Sangamon Fair and Springfield Exposition, 1890

The Sangamon Fair and Springfield Exposition of 1890 would be “one of the grandest events in the way of a local fair that has ever been held in the state of Illinois,” the Illinois State Register proclaimed that August. Everybody … Continue reading

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William Dodd Chenery, impresario

The dedication of Lake Springfield on July 12, 1935 featured an elaborate pageant involving more than 100 participants – among them city fathers who portrayed themselves in a drama depicting the planning and construction of the lake. The Illinois State … 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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‘Huyler’s Ghost,’ a poem by ‘H.’,1832

“Huyler’s Ghost” is by an early Springfield poet whom scholar John Hallwas considers “the finest poet of the frontier, in not only Illinois but the entire Midwest.” The poet signed his works, which were printed in the Sangamo Journal from … Continue reading

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New Year’s news, 1920

Good news dominated Springfield newspapers on New Year’s Day 1920. The pages of the Illinois State Journal and Illinois State Register were full of predictions about the year to come. Businesspeople were optimistic. Among those the Register quoted was Joseph … Continue reading

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Illinois State Fair settles in Springfield (1894)

An unelected board designated Springfield as the permanent site of the Illinois State Fair in 1894, after lawmakers spent 15 years proving they couldn’t do the job. From 1853, when the first state fair was held in Springfield, the show … Continue reading

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The jelly-cake controversy of 1891

When Springfield shoe merchants J.F. Miller and P.P. Powell offered a grand piano as top prize in the jelly-cake bakeoff at the Sangamon Fair and Springfield Exposition in 1891, they expected a bushel of free publicity. They got more than … Continue reading

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WMAY Shower of Stars, 1959

This entry has been edited to correct the date of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. On Feb. 15, 1959, the curtain opened on the stage of the Illinois State Armory, and Harry … Continue reading

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YMCA Athletic Park (1890s)

For a brief period in the 1890s, the Springfield Young Men’s Christian Association maintained what it called an athletic park. The park was on 10 acres leased by the YMCA at the southwest corner of Pasfield and Allen streets. A … Continue reading

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