Category Archives: Buildings

First passenger elevator (1876)

What apparently was Sangamon County’s first passenger elevator was installed at a dry-goods store, Kimber & Ragsdale, on the south side of today’s Old Capitol Plaza, in 1876. Kimber & Ragsdale, owned by W.F. Kimber (1836-1911) and Thomas Ragsdale (1812-92), … Continue reading

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Engine House 5 (“the colored firehouse”)

Engine House 5, 1310 E. Adams St., was known as Springfield’s “colored firehouse” from its construction in 1901 until after its fire company moved to a new building in 1954. “The Springfield Fire Department routinely gave Five the worst of … Continue reading

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Palace Theatre

When the Palace Theatre opened at 1836 S. 15th St. in 1915, the “very pretty little house” became a venue where downtown movies were brought to Springfield’s southeast side. Despite its grand name, the theater was very small– about the … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Swabians, Theaters, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bradfordton

Bradfordton owes its existence to a short-lived railroad and its name to a veteran of the War of 1812. Never an incorporated community, Bradfordton – on Illinois 97 (Jefferson Street extended) west of Springfield – originally was known as “Bradfordton … Continue reading

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Harry Lane, ‘boss gambler’

Chester M. “Harry” Lane was Springfield’s gambling kingpin at the turn of the 20th century, apparently with the connivance of police, city officials, and the courts. He stepped down in the mid-1900s, after a fatal shooting, the election of a … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media, Politics, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

St. Nicholas Hotel early days

J. Emil Smith, editor, publisher and columnist for the Illinois State Journal, wrote the following memory of the early St. Nicholas Hotel on Nov. 28, 1943, a few days before the McCreery family relinquished ownership. The McCreerys had operated the … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Historic Sites, Hotels & taverns, National Register, Prominent figures, Restaurants, Social life, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Lochridge brothers, Pawnee merchants

The Lochridge brothers began as farmers, but became grocers, businessmen, investors and, for a time, bankers. In the process, they helped build the town of Pawnee. The first Lochridges, Revolutionary War veteran Capt. John Lochridge (1761-1851) and his son William … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Communities, Early residents, Prominent figures, Railroads | 1 Comment

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

Old Capitol restoration, 1960s

Before the Old State Capitol was restored to the way it looked in the 1850s, the building housed Springfield’s public restrooms. You could tell by the odor. Earl “Wally” Henderson (1931-2016), co-founder with Don Ferry of the Ferry & Henderson … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, First Citizens, Historic Sites, Illinois capital, Local government, Museums, National Register, Prominent figures, Sangamon County, State government | Leave a comment