200 North Main Street | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428

#1960s

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

New Corn Belt Bank, November 1961 East and Jefferson, Downtown Bloomington

Construction of Corn Belt Bank, 1961.

Construction began on a new Corn Belt Bank home office on September 13, 1960. The Bloomington bank was moving two blocks east from its longtime home on the Courthouse Square. This bank building opened in October 1961.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

McDonald’s in Normal 806 S. Main St., 1961

First McDonald's in Normal, 1961.

The Twin Cities first McDonald’s restaurant opened in early 1959. The view here is looking southeast from the 800 block of South Main Street in Normal. The chain, which at this time boasted some 100 restaurants, had earlier opened drive-ins in Peoria and Decatur. Today, of course, McDonald's is one of the largest fast food restaurant chains in the world, with more than 36,000 “outlets” in 119 countries.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Mount Hope Ladies Aid Moore’s Mill Marker, August 1968

Moore's Mill Marker, 1960s.

The most famous gristmill in McLean County was the one operated by the Moore family of Mount Hope Township. Situated on the south bank of Sugar Creek about three miles west of the Village of McLean, Moore's Mill survived into the 20th century, becoming the last operational water-powered mill in the county. In 1964, the McLean County Historical Society dedicated a marker at the site of the mill.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

General Electric Plant Route 66 “Beltline,” 1968

General Electric, 1968.

Back in 1968 there wasn’t much at what’s today the intersection of Veterans Parkway and GE Road! The General Electric plant opened in 1954 and shutdown remaining manufacturing in the fall of 2010.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

IAA Dedication September 1961

Aerial view of the Illinois Agricultural Association, 1961.

More than 15,000 folks attended the dedication of the Illinois Agricultural Association headquarters on September 7, 1961. This aerial photograph, with a view to the southeast, was taken that very same day!

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

American Passion Play Behind the Curtain, 1963

American Passion Play, 1963.

The American Passion Play, staged in Bloomington since 1923, is the oldest such retelling of the story of Christ in the nation. Seen here are last-minute preparations during the 40th season, which opened on Sunday, March 24, 1963.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Fourth Generation American Passion Play, 1961

American Passion Play rehearsal, 1961.

he American Passion Play, staged right here in Bloomington, is the nation’s oldest such staging of the story of Christ. Seen here is five-year-old John Aldridge during a rehearsal. His parents Jack and Carol Aldridge were also Passion Play performers. And appearing in previous seasons were both his grandmother and great-grandfather.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Chiddix Junior High, Normal Early 1960s

Chiddix Junior High, 1960s.

Seen here is an early photograph of the International-style inspired Chiddix Jr High School, the work of the Normal-based architectural firm of Middleton Associates. Chiddix opened in April 1961.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

McLean County Basketball Tournament Championship Game, January 21, 1966 Octavia 68, Lexington 48

McLean County basketball tournament, 1966.

For many years the biggest sporting event on the local calendar was the McLean County Basketball Tournament, which began way back in 1911. During the years before school consolidation, 20 or more McLean County high schools outside of Bloomington-Normal would battle it out for bragging rights as the county’s small school champion.There were 11 schools vying for the 1966 tourney title. On January 21, Octavia beat Lexington in the championship game before a packed Horton Field House crowd on the Illinois State University campus.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

200 Block W. Washington St. Downtown Bloomington, 1965

Downtown Bloomington, 1965.

This photograph, taken from the roof of The Pantagraph building in March 1965, shows a row of four brick commercial buildings stretching west of the 1911 Peoples Bank building. This is the south side of the 200 block of W. Washington St. back in 1965.

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