Category Archives: Prominent figures

Earle Baker Perce, Antarctic explorer

Perce Point, a headland on an island on the west edge of Antarctica, commemorates a Williamsville man’s role in exploring some of the last unknown places on earth. Earle Baker Perce (1910-68) was a U.S. Navy radioman and pilot when … Continue reading

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Coe’s Book Store

In 1898, brothers Louis and Harry Coe, together with Ward Carter, organized Coe, Carter and Coe, a retail book and stationery store on the northeast corner of Fifth and Monroe streets. The business, at two different addresses and under three … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Prominent figures | 5 Comments

Broadwell’s building

This entry has been edited to correct information in a photo caption. The building on the northwest corner of Fifth and Washington streets in Springfield was a drugstore for about 125 years. While that tradition ended in 1981, the old … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Business, Historic Sites, Medicine, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

Brinkerhoff Home

The Brinkerhoff Home, which in 2020 sat buttoned-up and unused on the former campus of Benedictine University Springfield, was designed in the 1860s by Elijah E. Myers, who would go on to be one of 19th-century America’s best known, and … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Historic Sites, National Register, Prominent figures | 7 Comments

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

Posted in Amusements, Business, Celebrations, Crime and vice, Prominent figures, Public health, Social life | Leave a comment

Italian Villa fire (1932)

The explosion that wrecked the Italian Villa nightclub on East Monroe Street in 1932, killing two, was never explained. Suspicion, fueled by testimony from passersby, the track records of the club’s owners, and a rash of explosions around central Illinois … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Hotels & taverns, Italians, Italians, Prominent figures, Restaurants, Social life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

William Ide, William Todd and California’s Bear Flag rebellion

Two former Sangamon County residents played key roles in the rebellion that overturned Mexican rule in California in  1846. William B. Ide (1796-1852), was the rebellion’s leader and military commander. William L. Todd (1818-1876), one of Ide’s soldiers, helped create … 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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Ruth Ellis, lesbian activist

Ruth Ellis was an openly lesbian woman at a time when that was almost unheard of, the first 40 years of her life in her hometown of Springfield and for 60 more years in Detroit. She became celebrated in 1999, … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Ethnic groups, Prominent figures, Women | Leave a comment

Charles Wood/Carlo Modini, operatic tenor

A torrential rainstorm beat down on Springfield the evening of Sept. 16, 1886. But the weather didn’t stop local opera aficionados from packing the Chatterton Opera House at Sixth and Jefferson streets to hear tenor virtuoso Carlo Modini. “Nearly every … Continue reading

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