John Rinaker Jr., architect

Exposition Building, undated (King’s Daughters)

The cornerstone was laid for the Exposition Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on July 4, 1894. The granite stone, hewn by the Springfield firm of Richter & Doland, was inserted in a corner nook of the building. It was filled with paper artifacts, such as a ticket and program from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, a roster of Illinois Secretary of State employees, and a document on the rights of female voters.

Construction of the Exposition Building (in 2023 the oldest structure on the fairgrounds) coincided with the September 1894 opening of the first state fair held at its permanent site in Springfield.

The Exposition Building was co-designed by two local architects, John Rinaker Jr. (1865-1939) and Charles W. Shinn (1835-1914). The two men weren’t partners, but they did have offices next to each other in the old Franklin Life Building at Fifth and Monroe streets.

Rinaker, the son of former U.S. Rep. John Irving Rinaker of Carlinville, graduated in 1887 with a degree in architecture from the University of Illinois. He first worked as a draftsman with the Wabash Railroad and had been a practicing architect for only a short time when he and Shinn won the bid to co-design the Exposition Building.

Rinaker later served as an architect for the 1900 renovation of the governor’s mansion, for the 1902 design of a People’s Electric and Hot Water Co. power station at Third and Adams Street, and construction of the Riverton school in 1906, Springfield’s Central Masonic Lodge in 1908, and a number of private residences.

Odd Fellows building, 1913 (postcard image)

In addition to the Exposition Building, Rinaker’s crowning achievements included the opulent, multi-story building constructed for the International Order of Odd Fellows at Fourth and Monroe streets in 1896-97. Rinaker’s original design was seven stories, but one story was removed from the plans, probably due to construction costs. At the time of its construction, the IOOF building was the tallest commercial structure in the city.

Decorated in light-colored stone and a marble-accented interior, it was topped off by a roof garden. The building later had a wooden addition on the roof, but a 1918 fire destroyed the addition and damaged much of the rest of the structure.

At its grand opening in June 1897, the IOOF building’s tenants included Watson & Tobin Hardware, Charles V. Hickox (insurance), Harris and Lee Hickox (the Springfield Junction coal mine), Edward A. Staley (the Staley Hotel occupied the east side of the building), the Central Union Telephone Company, social clubs, and medical professionals such as Dr. Ralph Hambaugh, a specialist in “male and female diseases”.  Rinaker also moved his office into the IOOF building.

As the Monroe Street IOOF neared completion, John Rinaker was in the process of designing an Odd Fellows lodge at 211-15 S. Fourth St.  The lodge housed the IOOF’s Sangamon No. 6 and Teutonia No. 166 chapters.  It opened in October 1899.  A spectacular fire in 1971 destroyed the lodge and several buildings near it.

For a couple years, Rinaker partnered with Edward Furrow (1866-1924), who also had his office in the Monroe Street IOOF building. Furrow-designed projects included the pavilion at Zoo Park (circa 1907) north of the fairgrounds, the Hagler Building (1903-04) at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue, and the public school in Athens (1904-05), among other projects.   Furrow began his career as a draftsman for the Springfield architectural firm Bullard & Bullard.

Rinaker & Furrow was founded around 1911. One of the partners’ first projects was to design renovations for Springfield Fire House No. 1. The relocation faced the fire house towards Seventh Street.

John Rinaker Jr. (, John Buck Jr.)

In 1913, Rinaker & Furrow took part in bidding to design a convention hall adjoining Springfield’s city hall. Competitors included Bullard & Bullard and Samuel J. Haynes. However, the project never got past the drafting table. Heated political debate over the location, voter rejection of another proposed site, and a series of cost overruns all led to the project’s cancellation.

The firm’s bread and butter, however, was designing single-family homes around central Illinois. Rinaker & Furrow got steady work, but the two men dissolved their partnership in 1913.

Following the closure, Edward Furrow designed yet another IOOF lodge in Springfield. The new lodge contained the offices of the Grand Secretary of the order. It was located at the northeast corner of Spring and Monroe Streets.

Designed in American Renaissance, a popular style before World War I, the cost of the lodge was reported to be $14,000—about $2.6 million in 2023.  The cornerstone was placed in September 1914 and the lodge opened later that year.  Edward Furrow moved his offices into the building upon its completion.  The lodge was demolished in the mid-1970s to make way for a parking lot.

Campaign advertisement, 1915 (SJ-R)

Furrow had unfulfilled political aspirations. He ran for Capital Township supervisor on the Progressive Party ticket in 1913, but the election was a five-party contest, and the Progressives fared badly at the polls. Two years later, Furrow ran for city commissioner. However, he was among 31 candidates seeking four seats; with only 96 votes, he finished third to last.  (His former partner’s father, John Rinaker Sr., lost a race for mayor in the same election.)

Furrow moved his firm into the Broadwell Building about the same time he was working on a patent for a noise reduction system for railroad tracks.  He received the patent in 1920, although there’s no indication he ever marketed the system. Furrow died in his sleep while visiting his uncle on the family farm outside Springfield in August 1924.

John Rinaker Jr. tried his hand at several businesses, such as a hot water heating plant in Missouri and a business in Springfield called the Gravity Car Coupling Company, which was to manufacture couplers for train cars.  Neither enterprise appears to have been fruitful.

Rinaker’s 1922 design for the Highland School on Springfield’s west end appears to have been one of his last local projects.

Rinaker, his wife Nellie, and their son Irving eventually left Springfield for Los Angeles, where Rinaker worked as a draftsman for a number of years. He died in Los Angeles County at age 73.

Contributor: William Cellini Jr.

Original content copyright Sangamon County Historical Society. You are free to republish this content as long as credit is given to the Society. Learn how to support the Society. 



This entry was posted in Architecture, Buildings, Illinois State Fair, Local government, Prominent figures, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *