We are open to the public, and are requiring masks for all visitors over the age of 2. See Plan Your Visit page for additional information.
James and Evora Ross, pictured here with their four-year-old daughter Janet, chaired the all-family Jefferson School PTA Halloween party back on October 28, 1957.
Although there are several theories regarding the origin of Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, its roots can be traced back to the ancient Celts of Ireland and Northern England. The Celtic New Year begins on November 1st and the festival of Samhain (pronounced “sow-win”) is celebrated on October 31st to mark the end of harvest and the beginning of winter.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church's afternoon kindergarten class enjoyed candied apples among other treats during this Halloween Day 1939 party.
This September 1950 scene shows an Illinois Terminal Railroad car trundling past the 200 block of North Madison Street in downtown Bloomington. Illinois Terminal is often misidentified as a city streetcar system. In fact it was an electrified light rail network connecting many Central Illinois communities to each other and St. Louis. Bloomington lost interurban service in February 1953.
A Depression-era tradition in Bloomington was the annual Halloween Mardi Gras parade and street dance. Seen here from the parade of October 31, 1938, is Little Bo Peep played by Joe Raycraft.
The Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival was held outside of the McLean County community of Heyworth on L. David Lewis’ 320-acre farm over Memorial Day weekend 1970. Seen here are two aerials during the festival’s second day, May 31. The festival drew something like 60,000 young folk.
The Illinois State University homecoming parade has passed through Uptown Normal since the 1920s. Pictured here from the 1958 parade are members of the visiting Northern Illinois University marching band heading east on North Street. In the football game later that afternoon, the #Redbirds dispatched the NIU Huskies 33-18. Illinois Wesleyan University also held its homecoming on this day.
Back in the spring of 1957, Bloomington teenagers Nancy Defenbaugh and her older brother Jim were vacationing in Memphis, TN, with their family. Nancy and Jim kept pestering their parents Ted and Thelma to take them to Elvis Presley’s new residence, and their perseverance paid off. They visited what would be later known as Graceland (then outside Memphis city limits) and Elvis emerged from his house, got on a lawn tractor, and proceeded to motor on over and say hello.
The Jefferson School PTA held an all-family Halloween party on October 28, 1957. Seen here are prize winners for the prettiest, most original, and ugliest costumes. The ballerina (prettiest) is Susan Anderson, the robot (most original) Allan Swartz, and the farmer (ugliest) Carolyn Hirsch.
There aren’t too many known photographs of the Esquire Theatre, 108 N. Madison St., Bloomington. This one was taken by longtime Bloomington-Normal projectionist Karl Blakney, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 91. Karl was also an accomplished amateur photographer, and the Museum Archives holds a collection of his photographs.
On October 14, 1963 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigned in Bloomington. FDR’s whistle stop tour pulled into Union Depot on the city’s west side (see photo on the right) at 2:35 p.m. The photo on the left shows Roosevelt from the train’s rear observation platform.
The McLean County Museum of History’s largest artifact, the Tilbury Flash racing plane, has officially arrived at the Central Illinois Regional Airport terminal.
As the Great Chicago Fire raged out of control the night and early morning of October 8-9, 1871, Mayor Roswell B. Mason made a desperate plea over the telegraph wires for additional firefighters and equipment. This image shows the American Standard locomotive No. 97 that carried the Prairie Birds and their steamer on a flatbed railcar to Chicago.
Bellflower Township High School in the southeastern corner of McLean County once boasted a fine collection of local history and natural history objects. This “museum” consisted of a set of display cases and wall exhibits featuring hundreds of items, including Native American relics, an American bison skull, pioneer-era homespun cloth, and even firearms.
Fifty-seven years ago, Saturday, October 25, 1958, Wesleyan easily dispatched visiting Elmhurst College 47-7 in the homecoming football game. Seen here are two photographs from the 1958 homecoming parade in downtown Bloomington, held the morning of the Elmhurst game.
In the first half of the 20th century Lilly Orchard, located some sixteen miles west of the Twin Cities, was one of the more popular area destinations during the crisp fall days of September and October. Seen in this early October 1950 photograph are Orin White, Lilly Orchard manager, and two young customers enjoying the locally grown product.
John M. Newman of Pittsfield, IL, was killed on October 28, 1949, when his Pacific Intermountain Express truck sideswiped an automobile parked along Route 66 south of Bloomington. The owner of the parked vehicle, 20-year-old Donald Slaughter of Bloomington, was unharmed in the tragic accident.