Monthly Archives: May 2020

Roosa-Diller fire, 1920

A “small army of suffering humanity” poured out onto the frozen streets of Springfield when a fire destroyed two dilapidated apartment buildings on Dec. 23, 1920. A passerby discovered the blaze about 7:30 p.m. He alerted residents and the Springfield … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Disasters, Fires | Leave a comment

J.C. Penney store, Springfield

J.C. Penney’s Springfield store was the 1,001st in the chain when it opened on Oct. 5, 1928. “Large crowds attended the formal opening yesterday of the new J.C. Penney company store at 522 East Adams street,” the Illinois State Journal … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Department stores, Fires | 2 Comments

House of prostitution standoff, 1885

While a crowd gathered outside, a stylish bordello madam held off a Springfield police raid for nine hours in August 1885. Police tried to serve a warrant on Retta Rawlins’ “house of assignation,” which was upstairs in a building on … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Law enforcement | 3 Comments

Smallpox and Springfield’s ‘pest house,’ 1901-02

When smallpox broke out in Springfield in 1901, the Springfield City Council decided to build a “pest house” where victims could be isolated and cared for. The problem – in the face of neighborhood objections, a series of court contests … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Local government, Medicine, Public health | Leave a comment

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

George Voyzey, union radical

The radical sympathies of Springfield labor activist George Thomas Voyzey (1893-1950) got him in trouble with both local authorities and other union leaders. Voyzey served as chairman of the Springfield affiliate of Save the Union, a miners’ group that broke … Continue reading

Posted in Coal mines and mining, Depression, Industry, Labor unions, Prominent figures | Leave a comment