Category Archives: Social life

Dan Patch sets state fair race record (1906)

An estimated 40,000 people watched Dan Patch, the world’s most famous harness horse, set a new Illinois State Fair pacing record on Oct. 2, 1906. Dan Patch covered the one-mile fairgrounds track in 1:59¼, the first time a harness horse … Continue reading

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Fashions in men’s hats, 1904 (John Lutz store)

Hats were a high-fashion item for men in 1904, and John Lutz, one of downtown’s longest-lasting hatters and haberdashers, offered a lot of choices. When he died, Lutz (1856-1921) had sold men’s clothing from the same address, 204 S. Sixth … Continue reading

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Buffalo Hart Presbyterian Church

When European settlers first came to the Buffalo Hart area in 1824, the most noticeable feature of the landscape was a large grove of trees surrounded by prairie. Most of the early residents built their homes on the edge of … Continue reading

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Douglass Community Center

The Douglass Community Center offered civic, social and educational opportunities to African-American residents of Springfield when most similar organizations were closed to blacks. The Douglass center (apparently named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass) opened in 1926. It was phased out as … Continue reading

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First electrified home

The first Springfield home to be equipped with electric lights reputedly was the palatial residence of Frank and Sarah Jones Tracy. It’s not clear when Frank W. Tracy, a banker and civic leader, had the lights installed. The date probably … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Industry, Local government, Prominent figures, Social life, Springfield | 4 Comments

Brainerd Hill (West Lawrence Avenue)

Brainerd Hill, now Springfield’s favorite sledding spot, once was the ultimate challenge for the city’s competitive bicycle community. Springfield “wheelmen” organized the Capital City Cycling Club in the fall of 1887 to sponsor a variety of bicycling events, foster competition … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Parks, Prominent figures, Social life, Sports and recreation, Transportation, Women | 3 Comments

The Mill, tavern and restaurant

The Mill, 906 N. 15th St., was one of Springfield’s most popular dining spots for nearly 40 years. Brothers Herman (1897-1980) and Louis Cohen (1893-1962) opened the tavern and restaurant in May 1933 on the same corner where they had … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Fires, Hotels & taverns, Restaurants, Social life, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

‘The rink,’ 1868-71

This entry has been revised — ed. Springfield’s first ice rink hosted skating contests, floral exhibits, masked balls and the “Knights of the Skate” during its brief existence at Walnut and Monroe streets. “The rink,” as it was simply known, … Continue reading

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John S. Condell memoir, 1840s

John S. Condell Sr. (1818-1907), born in Ireland, arrived in Springfield by way of Philadelphia and Carrollton in 1841. Condell was one of Springfield’s pioneer merchants, operating stores on the downtown square for more than 40 years. One of his … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Early residents, Historic Sites, Histories, Prominent figures, Social life | 2 Comments

Zoo Park

Zoo Park was an ambitious, but short-lived amusement park set on nearly 200 acres of land off Eighth Street Road north of the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Early ideas for the park included not only a zoo, but also a mile-long … Continue reading

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