Category Archives: Buildings

First self-service grocery (1918), first supermarket (1940)

The opening of Springfield’s first self-service grocery in March 1918 meant lower prices – thanks to the layoffs of three clerks. The innovator was Moran Market on the northwest corner of Eighth and Washington streets, whose manager, Clyde McElroy, announced … Continue reading

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Fred R. Coats Co.

This entry has been updated and expanded. Fred R. Coats deserves to be ranked with Robert Lanphier, John W. Hobbs and the Weaver brothers among Springfield’s top industrialists and innovators. Coats (1865-1951), born in Bennington, N.Y., came to Springfield with … Continue reading

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DeWitt Smith Building fire, 1918

When the DeWitt Smith Building caught fire in 1918, modern firefighting equipment saved the building, and a heroic elevator operator rescued many of its tenants. Even so, the top floors of the building, on the southeast corner of Fourth and … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Architecture, Auto dealers, Buildings, Disasters, Local government | 2 Comments

Basketball tournament in Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum, 1933

Repairs to the Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum, under way in summer 2019, will include heating and air-conditioning systems. But the building was unheated in the winter of 1933, when the Coliseum played host to a boys high school basketball tournament. … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Depression, Schools and school districts, Sports and recreation | 2 Comments

Springfield in 1939, according to the Federal Writers Project

Editor: This entry, originally published in 2014, has been revised and expanded. Illinois: A Descriptive and Historical Guide was part of the American Guide series, which profiled each of the then-existing 48 states during the 1930s. The American Guides were … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Communities, Depression, Historic Sites, Histories, Illinois capital, Lincoln, Abraham, Maps, Markers, Springfield, Transportation | Leave a comment

Sacred Heart Church

It was a warm day in June 1884 when Catholics gathered on 12th Street near Cook Street in Springfield to lay the cornerstone for what was to be the area’s second German-oriented Catholic church. The two-story brick building, which included … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Churches, Ethnic groups, Germans, Slovenians | 13 Comments

The Cottage Garden

Springfield banker Nicholas Ridgely (1800-88) turned his love of plants and gardens into a business in 1849 when he started the Cottage Garden and Nursery in the area roughly bounded by 13th, 15th, Washington and Reynolds streets. Ridgely, who owned … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Buildings, Business, Early residents, Farming, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

New Deal projects, 1930s

Thousands of people clogged downtown Springfield on June 30, 1939, celebrating the fact that streetcar tracks no longer crisscrossed Monroe Street. The giant festival, which included three bands, a jitterbug contest and appearances by city officials, was the climax of … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Buildings, Celebrations, Depression, Local government, Social services, Transportation | 2 Comments

Paul M. Angle, historian

Of the 35 eminent Illinois writers whose last names are engraved on the frieze that decorates the  Illinois State Library, only three had significant connections to Sangamon County. Two are predictable – Abraham Lincoln and Vachel Lindsay. The third is … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Arts and letters, Buildings, Histories, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

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