Category Archives: Arts and letters

The Lemon Jelly Cake (Madeline Babcock Smith)

Madeline Babcock Smith earned her spot in the literary limelight. But she never got to enjoy it. Smith’s first novel, The Lemon Jelly Cake, published Aug. 4, 1952, “enjoyed an immediate and astounding success,” Dan Guillory wrote in his introduction … Continue reading

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The Krehbiel murals (Illinois Supreme Court)

The first public art Albert Krehbiel created apparently was on the buggies, carriages and delivery wagons his father manufactured in Iowa. His most famous works, however, are the 13 allegorical murals that decorate the Illinois Supreme Court Building in Springfield. … Continue reading

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New Dennis Williams portrait (a detective story)

This article first appeared in the November 2021 edition of Historico, the newsletter of the Sangamon County Historical Society. You can become a Historico subscriber: see below. Dennis Williams was a rarity in 1880s Springfield: a successful African American artist … Continue reading

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Dennis Williams, crayon artist

  This entry, originally written in 2013, was greatly expanded and corrected in 2021, thanks to the research of Mary Frances of Springfield. See “Contributor” note at end. Update: There is an update to this entry. See New Dennis Williams … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Arts and letters, Business, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

Savillah Hinrichsen, librarian and suffragist

When William “Buck” Hinrichsen took office as Illinois secretary of state in 1893, he appointed his sister, Savillah Hinrichsen, as assistant state librarian. The term “assistant,” however, was misleading – the secretary of state is also titularly the state librarian, … Continue reading

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Chatterton Opera House roof collapse, 1887

There was no audience inside when the roof of the Chatterton Opera House collapsed on Aug. 9, 1887. “The blue sky is now the only covering that shelters the auditorium of the once beautiful interior,” the Illinois State Journal reported. … Continue reading

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Fairview, home of William H. Herndon

The property where William Herndon compiled much of his biography of Abraham Lincoln never became a state park, but part of the house where Herndon worked still overlooks the Sangamon River north of Springfield. Herndon (1818-91) was Lincoln’s third and … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Buildings, Lincoln, Abraham, Oak Ridge signs, Prominent figures, State government | 5 Comments

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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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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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

Posted in Architecture, Arts and letters, Parks, Uncategorized | 3 Comments