The architectural Bullard family, founded by Samuel A. Bullard (1853-1926), designed many of Springfield’s most prominent late 19th-century churches, schools, and public buildings. It and the firm of Helmle & Helmle are considered the most successful and most accomplished of the capital city’s architectural firms.
Samuel Bullard was born on the family farm in eastern Sangamon county on March 25, 1853. He attended the then-Illinois Industrial University at Champaign, returning to open an architectural office in Springfield. He spent his entire career in the capital city.
In addition to the founder, architects affiliated with the firm of Bullard & Bullard included Samuel’s brothers, Robert A. (1871-1948) and George W. Bullard (1855-1935). George Bullard practiced in Springfield for a decade before leaving in 1890 to pioneer architecture in the Pacific Northwest. He established an office of Bullard & Bullard in Tacoma, Washington.
Bullard & Bullard’s preferred style was the then-popular Romanesque Revival as perfected by H. H. Richardson. Local buildings done in that style include Kumler United Methodist Church (1887), Grace Methodist (now Lutheran) Church (1892), the original Illinois National Bank building (1894), and the old Enos School (1898).
The firm’s Christ Episcopal Church (1888) is a small Richardsonian masterpiece. Christian Laine called it “the city’s most handsome and stunning example of Romanesque Revival architecture, almost minimal in proportions and yet monumental in its beauty.”
The Springfield City Hall of 1893 (since demolished) also showed the influence of the Chicago Commercial Style then practiced by the firm of Burnham & Root. The city hall was a romantic bow to the past, complete with Renaissance tower, as was the State Arsenal of 1901, which was a castle in stone.
S.A. Bullard also collaborated in 1899 with the Springfield architecture firm of S. J. Hanes in enlarging the Old State Capitol, then in use as the Sangamon County Courthouse, by lifting the two-story structure and inserting a new third floor beneath it.
Many of those projects, such as the Kumler United Methodist and Christ Episcopal churches and the State Arsenal, were done in collaboration with builder and mason Col. James S. Culver.
Samuel Bullard was mayor of Springfield when he died suddenly of a heart attack on Dec. 5, 1926. “Bullard was considered a ‘kindly, courteous and tenacious’ leader, according to his successor, J. Emil Smith,” The State Journal-Register reported in 2010.
Other scions of the family, Clark W. Bullard and Roger C. Bullard, maintained an office in Springfield as late as the 1950s. Among their designs was the 1894 Illinois National Bank building, a six-story “skyscraper” at Sixth and Adams streets.
Bullards continued to work in Springfield until well into the 20th century. Robert A. Bullard designed his own house at 1313 Leland Ave.; completed in 1906, the house was done in the new Prairie Style of architecture pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright. Clark Bullard in 1930 designed the Robinson House at 1801 W. Lawrence Ave.. Both houses were honored as official City of Springfield landmarks by the Springfield Historic Sites Commission, although the Robinson House was demolished in 2013.
Springfield Structures Designed by Bullard & Bullard
Christ Episcopal Church (1888)
Grace Methodist (now Lutheran) Church (1892)
Kumler United Methodist Church (1887)
Enos School (1898, demolished 2012)
Illinois National Bank building (1894, demolished 1951)
Illinois State Arsenal (1901, destroyed by fire in 1935)
Note: This entry has been edited to remove a confusing (and possibly incorrect) reference to the Bullard firm’s reported design of “the Lincoln theater of 1880.” It is not clear whether that building existed, or if so, where. In addition, SangamonLink has added photos of Samuel and George Bullard, as well as the birth and death years of all three brothers.
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We are in the process of restoring a home originally built in 1905 here in Tacoma WA. We are fortunate to have the original blueprints for the structure and would very much like to find a picture of the stated Architect, George W. Bullard as mentioned in this reference. Please advise what services for copying and/or artifacts you might have in your collection. We would be most grateful! Thank you!
I’ll check the next time I’m in the Sangamon Valley Collection (or you could call them directly — 217-753-4900 extension 234 — on Monday). But — if you haven’t done so already — you probably should also check with whatever institution has the best collection of images from Tacoma history. Looks like that might be the Tacoma Public Library.
I’ll let you know if I find anything. And thanks for reading.
I have a photo of George W. Bullard. I can email you a scan of the photo if you’d like. I am a descendant of Samuel A. Bullard; he was my great-grandfather. Also, the University of Illinois has photos of George Bullard, as he designed at least on of the buildings still on campus there.
Marcia: I’ll forward your email to both Mr. Day and Mr. Ryan, in case they haven’t located photos yet of George. I’d also like to have one. I think there are photos of Samuel Bullard available, since he was Springfield mayor, but I haven’t seen one of George yet either. If I had both, I’d add the photos to this entry (you’ll get credit for the one of George).
Thanks for the offer, and thanks very much for reading.
Did I ever send you the photo of George Bullard? Please let me know and if not I will do that. I also have photos of Samuel, along with his obituary and other newspaper articles.
Ms. Bullard: No, I don’t think I received any photos from you. Thanks for following up.
Did you find an image of George Bullard? In have a 1914 image of approx 40 architects in a group and I am working on identifying each, an image of mr Bullard would be helpful if one exists.
Jeff: Sorry, I have not found one, and none turned up in a quick search I just did of my usual online suspects. If you haven’t done so already, you should contact the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library, as well as the Tacoma, WA., public library, since that’s where George moved in 1890.
Thanks for asking.
Bullard & Bullard did design a theater that was later called the Lincoln, but it was a remodeling job, the house was called the Princess Theatre at the time, and the project was done in 1920. This article from the April 3 issue of trade journal Motion Picture News that year is datelined Springfield, Mass, but the body of the article mentions central Illinois as the location of the theater, so it had to have been the house at 329 S. Fifth Street that was renamed the Lincoln Theatre in 1928.
“Springfield, Mass., House to be Entirely Remodelled [sic] During Coming Summer
“Bullard and Bullard Are Drawing Plans to Bring Princess Theatre Up-to-Date
“THE Princess theatre, which W. W. Watts recently secured, will be thoroughly remodeled during the coming summer. Bullard and Bullard, architects, have prepared plans which will greatly alter the size and appearance of the playhouse.
“The main floor will be extended 30 feet and dropped 32 inches, which will permit the installation of about 400 new seats on the ground floor. The entire second floor of the building will be taken out and a balcony and mezzanine floor put in, which will allow about 500 new seats to be added. This will make the Princess the largest theatre in the city in number of seats.
“The new lobby will occupy part of the present lobby and also the entire room occupied at present by the Metcalf Company. It will be decorated and finished in the latest style and will be a promenade second to none. The box-office will be on the Fifth street side, making it convenient for ticket purchasers.
“The interior of the house will be done over and Watts expects to make it the most beautiful in central Illinois. The best ideas in use in the leading theatres in the country will be utilized in the finishing of the playhouse.
“A beautiful new canopy will be added to the front of the building, which will not only be an ornament but also a beneficial addition to the theatre. A handsome electric sign will also be conspicuous when the theatre is finished.
“Watts will also take possession of the Lyric theatre about the first of July and extensive improvements will be made on it. The Gaiety will also be gone over, enlarged and redecorated,- and many new seats installed.
“Watts expects to make the Gaiety, Princess and Lyric theatres second to none in the state when all plans are finished. “
Joe: This is great information. One of the reasons the SCHS decided to publish this encyclopedia online (rather than in print) is that we knew readers would be able to supplement (and when necessary correct) our entries. Thanks very much.
Bullard & Bullard Arhitects designed and built our family home in Springfield, at 2101 Wiggins Ave in 1931. I recently had the opportunity to view all the original blueprints as well as the architects’ specifications. It is a very unique property which I believe would be worthy of inclusion for those interested in architecture as well as Springfield history.
Thank you for maintaining this informative site!
And thank you, Dan, for reading, and for the comment.
Hi Dan. My family will be in Springfield for a reunion next weekend, Oct. 14. We plan to do a driving tour to see as many Bullard and Bullard building as we can. Clark Bullard was my grandfather, and Samuel A Bullard was our great-grandfather. We will definitely take a look at your home! We don’t have immediate family living in Springfield any,ore, so we have rented a house near you on W. Vine Street. There are several homes in your neighborhood that we believe are Bullard homes.
BLUEPRINTS NEEDED! I have enjoyed maintaining, as best I can, Beardstown, IL. 1889 Bullard and Bullard International Organization of Odd Fellows building and HAVE THEIR PEN DRAWING of building which needs a structural repair of a bowing column supporting the turret… Want to resume teaching music, china painting, and holding teen dances, (when pandemic allows), and keeping historic building standing proud! Looking for blueprints and James Krohe, Jr., I am absolutely ecstatic to see your name as contributor, hope you are well! Sangamon County Historical Society thank you so much for this article!