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Archive of: 1920s

McHistory: Bloomington-Normal Under Jim Crow Law

Image of Lue Anna Brown Sanders Clark

For Black History month, GLT is reviving its occasional series McHistory in partnership with the McLean County Museum of History. 

Majestic Theatre, Bloomington May 1937

First opened in 1910, the Majestic Theatre was located at the corner of East and Washington streets in downtown Bloomington. This March 1937 scene shows folks lined up for a musical variety show presented by the employees of State Farm Insurance. The show was held May 26-28.

This old vaudeville house came down in 1956 to make way for the Bloomington Federal Savings and Loan Association building (today known as the Government Center).

Better Babies Conference May 1929

The Pantagraph and Second Presbyterian Church, Bloomington, sponsored a three-day “Better Babies Conference,” May 7-9, 1929. Seen here are participants gathered around the registration table at Second Presbyterian. Seated is Nellie Motherway, president of the Holy Trinity School Parent Teacher Association.

Arrowsmith High School

Built in 1929, this building served as the Village of Arrowsmith’s high school until consolidation with neighboring Saybrook in 1952. The old high school was then used as the consolidated junior high before falling to the wrecking ball.

Today, Arrowsmith students attend Ridgeview High School in Colfax

C.W. Frey’s Showroom Downtown Bloomington, circa 1929-30

Old car show room, 1929.

Clarence W. Frey & Sons was a longtime auto dealership and service center. Seen here is a Frey showroom with circa 1929-1930 Studebakers.

Irving School, Bloomington Eighth Grade Graduates, 1925

Irving School in Bloomington, 1935.

Here’s the Irving School class of 1925. In 2016 Irving is still a public school on Bloomington’s west side (though the old building in the background was long replaced with a more modern structure).

Eighth Grade Graduates Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home, 1928

Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's School eight grade graduates, 1928.

Twelve eighth grade graduates from the Illinois Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home (later renamed the Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s School, or ISSCS) pose for this late spring 1928 photograph. Unfortunately, the only students positively identified are Richard Griffith (middle, back row) and Thelma Capshaw (second from left, front row).

Knights of Columbus’ New Home 1206 N. Main St., Bloomington December 1927

New Knights of Columbus house, 1927.

In December 1927, the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service and fraternal organization, converted the Snell residence into their new club quarters. The K of C remained there for about a decade.

East Twin Grove Farmers’ Picnic July 28, 1922

Farmers' Picnic, 1922.

In late July 1922, the McLean County Farm Bureau and the McLean County Home Bureau held a picnic west of Bloomington for farmers and rural folk from six area townships. A crew from Homestead Films, Inc. of Chicago was also there to shoot scenes for a seven-reel silent picture to be called “The Yoke of Age.”

Holiness Tabernacle Normal, 1929

Holiness Tabernacle, 1929.

The Central Illinois Holiness Association, an interdenominational camp meeting grounds, is situated east of Underwood Park off Jersey Avenue. The association dates to 1883 and was first located in Farmer City, DeWitt County. The association relocated to Normal in 1894 and this property was acquired in 1916.

Ensenberger’s, 1925 West Side of Square, Bloomington

Construction of Ensenberger's, 1925.

Back in the summer of 1925 iron workers were completing the steel frame for the new Ensenberger’s furniture store high rise. This seven-story beauty was designed by local architect Arthur L. Pillsbury. It opened in May 1926, but Pillsbury had been killed in an automobile accident the previous October.

Home Sweet Home Mission, 1923 1006 W. Washington St., Bloomington

Home Sweet Home Mission, 1923.

Home Sweet Home City Rescue Mission (now known as Home Sweet Home Ministries) has provided “food, shelter, and hope to the hungry, homeless, and hurting” since 1917.

When Paperboys Were … Boys Pantagraph Carriers, May 1929

Pantagraph carrier boys, 1929.

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?

Santa and His Six (?) Reindeer Bloomington Christmas Parade, 1929

Christmas parade, 1929.

The December 3, 1929 Christmas parade in Bloomington featured Santa Claus, six marching bands, a drum corps, and eleven floats, among many other attractions. Mr. Claus is seen here out front, his sleigh pulled by six reindeer.

Bah, humbug! Fred Hitch as Scrooge, 1926

Christmas Scrooge, 1926.

From this 1926 publicity still we’d have to say Bloomington’s Fred Hitch captured the essence of the character Charles Dickens described as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!” From the mid-1920s into the 1990s, the Scottish Rite Temple (now the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts) staged a version of the “A Christmas Carol.”

‘Lucky Lindy’ Bails Out November 1926

Lindbergh crash, 1926.

On the evening of November 3, 1926, Charles Lindbergh jumped out of his U.S. airmail biplane somewhere in the skies far above McLean County. Flying blind and out of fuel at 13,000 feet, a 24-year-old “Lucky Lindy” parachuted into the inky darkness and blowing snow. He landed unharmed at a farm just outside of Covell, an unincorporated community southwest of Bloomington. Meanwhile, his doomed, pilotless aircraft had crashed nearby.

Labor Day in Bloomington Circa 1920

Labor Day, 1920.

Bloomington’s first Labor Day parade was held on September 7, 1891, three years before the day became a national holiday. This parade float, dating to sometime around 1920, is the handiwork of the International Brotherhood of Blacksmiths and Helpers Local 79. This local represented blacksmiths at the Chicago & Alton Railroad Shops on the city’s west side.

Photo of the Week, 112: Lincoln Marker Dedication, June 1922

Lincoln Marker Dedication, June 1922

In 1922 and 1923, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution erected 19 markers in Central Illinois commemorating the route Abraham Lincoln traveled on the Eighth Judicial Circuit.

Photo of the Week, 100: J.E. Will & Co. Fire, 1928, Deadliest in Twin City History

J.E. Will & Co. Fire, 1928, Deadliest in Twin City History

In May 1928, a 40-foot-high rear wall of the burned-out J.E. Will & Co. furniture store in downtown Bloomington buckled and collapsed in a shower of bricks and other debris.

Photo of the Week, 89: Livingston Flats—Gone but not Forgotten

Livingston Flats, Bloomington Illinois

Located at the northeast corner of East and Jefferson streets in downtown Bloomington, the Livingston Flats served as a mixed-use development (residential and commercial) for the better part of 45 years.

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