Lost Springfield: Photographs from Illinois Capital Illustrated


In 1898 the Illinois State Register published a lavishly illustratedvolume showing homes, businesses, public buildings and other scenes in Springfield, Illinois. The introduction describes the book as "an Art Work of merit -- one that would appeal to the most esthetic taste and discriminating judgment of educated people...We feel it can be displayed in any home or counting house or art center in the world in as ostentatious a manner as desired."

The first section of the book is largely filled with photos of houses. Many show the imposing homes of the wealthy from Springfield's "Aristocracy Hill" neighborhood (south of downtown, roughly bordered by Second Street, South Grand Avenue, and Eighth Street). But modest middle-class homes and even rental properties are pictured as well.

Most of the houses shown here are gone -- lost to the early-20th century commercial expansion of downtown, the impact of the automobile on commuting and housing patterns, suburban development, and the high cost of maintenance. Some of the homes pictured survive, but mutilated and stripped of their architectural ornament -- and a few stand almost unchanged from when these photos were taken over a century ago.

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