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

#Towns -- Normal

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Warren “Ike” LaBounty Normal Pole Vaulter

Pole Vaulter, 1941.

On May 24, 1941, Illinois State Normal University competed in the Illinois Intercollegiate Conference track and field championship in DeKalb, on the campus of what was then called Northern Illinois State Teachers College.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Illinois State Normal University 77th annual Commencement Ceremonies, June 11, 1936

ISU Graduation ceremonies, 1936.

Back in 1936, there was one graduation ceremony for all graduates, and it was staged on the Quad.Seen here are unidentified ISU faculty members taking part in it.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Wheeler Triplets, June 4, 1936 Brokaw Hospital, Normal

Nurses holding triplets, 1936.

Brokaw Hospital maternity nurses are seen here keeping the Wheeler triplets on their strict feeding schedule—one ounce of milk every two hours. In an age well before infertility treatments, triplets were extremely rare!

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Labor Secretary Visits Bloomington October 17, 1935

Labor Secretary, 1935.

Department of Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet, stopped in the Twin Cities on October 17, 1935. She spoke at Capen Auditorium on the Illinois State Normal University campus. She talked about workplace health and safety.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

McDonald’s Open for Business 806 S. Main St., Normal February 1959

First McDonald's in Normal, 1959.

An intrepid Museum staffer tracked this wonderful image down, taken in mid-February 1959 - this being the first McDonald’s in the Twin Cities. Soon after, the drive-in opened.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Illinois Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home Home Band, 1930

ISSCS band, 1930.

The Pantagraph recounted the story of the Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home Band, organized in 1897-98 and active into the 1960s. This state-run home in north Normal changed its name to the Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s School (ISSCS) in 1931.

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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

Big 4 Valley Storm Sewer Project Mid-1930s, Bloomington

PWA sewer project, 1930s.

During the Great Depression an infusion of federal dollars through New Deal “alphabet” agencies and projects kept millions of Americans on the job and able to put food on the family table. In 1934, the Bloomington-Normal Sanitary District received a loan and grant from the PWA to construct a storm water sewer running roughly 3,000 feet.

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Written by Lauren Lacy in Museum News Event Spotlight

Gordon Ropp Named 2016 History Makers Honoree

It is impossible to study the history of agriculture and rural life in McLean County without examining the career of Gordon Ropp. His dedication to the advancement of agriculture and enrichment of rural life has played an instrumental role in shaping McLean County.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Brokaw Hospital, Normal 1930s View

Brokaw Hospital, 1930s.

Advocate BroMenn Medical Center opened its doors way back in May 1896. In 1901, it was called Brokaw Hospital after a large donation by Bloomington plow maker Abram Brokaw. With expansion and the merger with Mennonite Hospital of Bloomington in 1991 came the “mash-up” name of BroMenn Regional Medical Center and the Advocate part of the name was introduced in 2010.

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