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.
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!
Seen here are two members of the Billetti Troupe, a nationally touring high-wire act that wintered in the Twin Cities.
For nearly a century, Bloomington-Normal served as winter training grounds for trapeze artists and aerial acrobats from across the country. Thus it’s not surprising that the local Y’s annual circus show featured not only local amateur talent but big-time national acts as well. Seen here are C.W. Brooks and his daughter Beverly June Brooks of the Brooks Family act performing on opening night, Monday, March 21, 1938
The Illinois Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs held its nineteenth convention in Bloomington in late August 1918. Seen here are convention goers gathered before Wayman African Methodist Episcopal (Wayman A M E Church) Church at 804 N. Center St.
Long before successive waves of school consolidation beginning apace in the late 1940s, every small town had their own high school. The Village of Stanford in Allin Township, located west of Bloomington, was no exception. Seen here is the 1920 Stanford High School. The view is looking to the northwest. In 1972, Stanford became part of the consolidated Olympia School District.
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.
This photograph showing the 200 block of North Main Street was snapped on April 4, 1948. In the upper right corner you'll see a Google Street View image of the block in 2016.
This undated view of Bloomington High School’s Athletic Field is looking southeast. Opened in 1927, this facility was first known as Davis Field, named for U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Bloomington resident David Davis. In 1943 it was renamed Fred Carlton Field for a former BHS graduate and school custodian.
These lively lads were earning a life’s worth of lessons as Pantagraph paperboys back in the spring of 1929. Unfortunately, these carriers are unidentified. Can anyone help us identify these boys?
Established in 1923, Lakeside Country Club made use of a former clay brick and tile pit enjoying a second life as a small recreational lake. The view here is looking northeast. That building is long gone. The current clubhouse dates to 1972.
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.
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.
entral Illinois is dotted with the tiniest of communities that owe their existence to the railroad boom of the nineteenth century. Many of these places featured a pocket-sized train station, grain elevator, livestock pens, and a small cluster of residential and commercial buildings.
One such railroad stop or “station” was Randolph, situated roughly halfway between Bloomington and Heyworth.
This undated aerial shows a section of the east side of downtown Bloomington prior to the loss of much of the built environment to surface parking lots. Everything in the L-shaped blue box is gone, replaced by surface parking for State Farm Insurance and Second Presbyterian.
Designed by Bloomington architect Arthur L. Pillsbury, this Classical Revival-style First Church of Christ, Scientist featured a Greek temple entry and a copper dome, making it one of the most distinctive buildings in the Twin Cities. It was located at the southwest corner of Prairie and Monroe streets (Monroe no longer runs between East and Prairie streets). The church remained the home for local Christian Scientists until 1979.
In the mid-1940s, the Evans Building earned the nickname “Little Greenwich Village” due to all the colorful characters that made the downtown high-rise their home or place of business. The Evans is actually two buildings—one fronting Jefferson Street and the other Main Street—which together form an “L” around the old Corn Belt Bank building.
The small community of Anchor, located in the northeastern corner of McLean County, was once home to this attractive 1896 school building. In 1949, the neighboring rural communities of Anchor, Cooksville, and Colfax consolidated to form Octavia High School, which was located in Colfax.
This undated view, looking north, shows Miller Park and much of Bloomington’s west side as seen from on high.
Every spring Delmar D. Darrah’s theatrical retelling of “the greatest story ever told” is brought back to life on the local stage. The American Passion Play tells the story of Christ and his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. The former Scottish Rite Consistory Temple has served as the play’s home for all but one season. Seen here are actors (left to right) Stanley K. Norton, Gus Winker, and Walter Berg at a late March 1954 rehearsal.
This lovely view of the 300 and 400 blocks of North Center Street, looking north, offers plenty of “eye candy” for the local history buff. For instance, on the far left is the Illinois Hotel, now known as the Illinois House. The hotel also included a barber shop, cafe (note the sign), and cigar stand. The building to the immediate north (or right), as indicated by the vertical sign, was the old location of Bloomington-Normal’s Sears Roebuck and Co. store. Today, this building’s tenants include Fox and Hounds Day Spa.