Since its formal opening on June 29, 1932, the Davis Lodge has hosted innumerable wedding receptions, family reunions, public meetings, and the like. It was rebuilt in 2001-2002.
Nybakke is currently celebrating its 85th anniversary, making it one of the oldest family-owned businesses in Central Illinois.
Miller Park’s Ed Denniston welcomes the zoo’s new arrival in early June 1964. This little mule’s parents were a Shetland pony mare and a Sicilian donkey, which were boarded at Davis U. Merwin’s rural home near Downs. Merwin, second-in-command at The Pantagraph, was also president of the Miller Park Zoological Society.
Shout out to the Young Men’s Club! On Tuesday, May 30 the YMC, through its Youth Opportunities Foundation, presented the Museum’s Education Program Coordinator Hannah Johnson with a check to cover the cost of eight full scholarships for campers participating in Futures in History Camp 2017. This donation will cover the cost of roughly twenty-five percent of the campers who attend on scholarship each year. In addition to the donation, numerous members of the Club are offering their volunteer services in various capacities, including Bill Caisley, Guy Fraker, and Herb Knudsen.
Bloomington music teacher Julia LeBeau (left), Faye Scheets (center), and Helen Tepe formed a melodica trio back in 1964.
At the end of the 1964 school year, Leroy High School students selected biology teacher and basketball coach Ron Crosby (left) as “Teacher of the Year.” Crosby is seen here looking over diplomas with William Lewis, LeRoy’s principal.
The Twin Cities and surrounding communities have honored their war dead since the first local Decoration Day was organized after the Civil War.
This Memorial Day 1964 scene shows Army Lt. Bernard Borson, chaplain at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, speaking at the soldiers’ monument at Park Hill Cemetery.
The Bloomington High School marching band passes through the gates of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery on Bloomington’s south side for a Memorial Day program. “Our nation, our young men of necessity, play a role in the tragic drama now a part of current world events on this Memorial Day,” Edward B. Akin of the Illinois Veterans’ Commission told those gathered for a ceremony at the cemetery.
The McLean County Legion Drum Corps, debuting their new uniforms, march south down Main Street on Saturday, May 30, 1936, during Bloomington’s annual Memorial Day parade.
On May 22, 1968, workers removed a roof off a gas station being dismantled at the corner of Lee and Washington streets on the west end of downtown Bloomington. The roof was being moved to Locust Street where it would be placed atop another gas station.
Janet Froemming, receptionist at the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. (now Bridgestone Tires) plant in Normal, gets a close look at a tire produced for the U.S. Army’s latest generation amphibious vehicle known as the LARC (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo). These LARC tires were first shipped to the Army Depot in Polk, CA on May 29, 1968.
Retired schoolteacher Elsa Schilling found a quiet corner of Withers Public Library hoping to find a few keepers during the 10-cent book sale, held May 25, 1968. With the opening of the present-day Bloomington Public Library on East Olive Street, this old library was torn down in 1978. Who has special memories of Withers?
These buildings, located on the west side of the 200 South Main Street, were demolished in the early 1970s to make way for the McLean County Law and Justice Center complex. Who remembers stopping at this National Liquors storefront or having a bite to eat at Baker’s Hamburger Stand?
The local Veterans of Foreign Wars John H. Kraus post prepares for its 17th annual poppy sale in this late May 1938 photograph. Left to right: Fred E. Crone, post commander; Marie Cooper, Anderson-Fike auxiliary president; Emmet Koos and Catherine Lawrence, poppy committee members; Ruth McReynolds, auxiliary poppy committee chair; and Grant Cooper, post poppy committee chair.
These patient 4-H members are waiting for something to wrap up before they can enjoy their meal. Note the needlework in front of them and the quilts behind. This mystery photograph comes from the Museum’s extensive collection of McLean County Home Bureau photographs. The Home Bureau is now known as the McLean County Association for Home and Community Education.
We don’t know the who, what, where, or why of this photograph. If you can help us with identifications, we’d sure appreciate it!
This circa 1967 aerial looks northwest. That’s under-construction St. Joseph’s Hospital in the center, with the Route 66 “beltline” (now Veterans Parkway) in the foreground. To the right (or north) is Eastland Mall, which formally opened in February 1967. This east side St. Joe’s, which would open in March 1968, replaced the old west side hospital off Morris Ave.
Who remembers when the east side of Bloomington liked like this?
Seen here are Redd-Williams American Legion Post #163 members at the McBarnes Memorial Building on East Grove Street in Bloomington. For much of the 20th century the Twin Cities had segregated Legion posts.
If you can identify any of these unidentified gentlemen, please let us know.
On June 20, 1938, about 40 members of Bloomington’s 2nd Battalion, 108th Quartermaster Regiment, headed to Chicago for the annual Illinois National Guard military show at Soldier Field. They’re seen here boarding a truck near the old armory (which was lost in a building collapse in 2011) in the warehouse district.
This lovely Depression-era view of a bustling downtown Bloomington shows the east side of the 300 block of North Main Street, one block north of the Courthouse Square.
What catches your eye?
Margarette Scott’s beauty school was located on the 400 block of North Main Street in downtown Bloomington. “We get personality training too, because we’ve got to please our customers,” one of the students said at the time of this photograph. “Most of the girls are 18 to 25 years old and high school graduates … Nearly half the girls come from farm homes.”
William Meyers and his wife Beverly (seen here) spent eight weeks traveling by U.S. Army surplus jeep from the Panama Canal Zone to Central Illinois—some 7,040 miles in all. Beverley’s parents lived in El Paso, Ill. During the epic journey the young couple had but one flat tire.
Several ISNU coeds show off their gowns for the June 10, 1949 junior-senior prom. Louise Claymore (left) is in a blue chiffon; Barbara Schonert (center) in blue satin; and Marilyn McCarthy in beige lace with a stole.
Warren Craft (left) and two clerks, Don Bradbury and Catherine Chambers, prepare for the May 25, 1949 grand opening of Craft’s Food Store at 108 E. Beaufort St. in Uptown Normal.
Danvers High School seniors are seen here pouring though The Daily Pantagraph’s 56-page graduation edition of May 18, 1949. The Pantagraph distributed complimentary copies to some 2,370 senior from 77 Central Illinois high schools.
These seniors delayed their “skip day” to Starved Rock State Park to get a look at the class photographs.
Eugene Field teacher Kathryn Carnahan leads a crowded classroom of 40 first graders in this October 1949 scene. Opened in 1936, Eugene Field in Normal closed as an elementary school in 2005, and today the 81-year-old building serves as the Vocational Training Center for McLean County Unit District No. 5.
Who’s a Eugene Field alum or had children that attended this neighborhood school?
Bloomington High School students Wanda Rust (right) and Margaret Schlemmer work on murals in the newly opened student lounge, a repurposed second floor classroom. At this time the high school was located on the 500 block of East Washington Street. The current high school opened in 1959.
Artist Bob Hooton (left) and writer Dan Wickenden, both fresh from an extended stay in the Central American nation of Guatemala, arrived in Bloomington in mid-May 1948. Hooton, the son of Bloomington architect Phillip Hooton, intended to stay in the Twin Cities for the summer. Wickenden planned to return to his home in Connecticut. Two years later, the dust jacket cover of Wickenden’s novel “The Dry Season” would feature a Hooton painting.
Oscar Levant (right), the famed American pianist, composer, and actor, performed with the Bloomington-Normal Symphony on two consecutive nights, February 23 and 24, 1950, at the Scottish Rite Temple (now the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts).
In the early morning hours of May 19, 1948, a hit-and-run truck driver knocked down two gasoline pumps at D.E. Henderson’s service station in Towanda. Fortunately no one was hurt.
Who remembers when gas pumps looked like this?
Fire Inspector Charles Smalley (left) and Fire Chief Victor “Spud” Sylvester, Jr. take a close look at the controls of Normal’s new 1,000-gallon-per-minute pumper truck. It cost $23,000 at the time, which would be more than $162,000 in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation.
In the spring of 1958, the Bloomington-Normal Garden Club planted a series of evergreens at Franklin Park, the city’s oldest green space. Seen here is Joyce Lynn Hall, an Illinois Wesleyan University student, admiring three Pfitzer junipers and a vertical yew recently set in the concrete planter at the park’s center.
Note the city bus heading west on Walnut Street in the background.
Bloomington Police officer Robert Shepherd (left) books a startled hen on accessory charges. That’s officer John Hauptman keeping the prisoner from flying the coop. She was picked up when officers arrested a man they found trying to stuff her in a paper bag.
Area farmer Nuel Downs, a lifelong collector of Native American relics, is shown here in mid-July 1972 assisting with an archeological dig at the Noble-Wieting site north of Heyworth.
This summer 1966 view of the near southeast side of Bloomington, looking east, offers a wealth of information. “A” is Oakaland School; “B,” Holiday Club, a private park that the city purchased in 1970; “C,” Meadows subdision; “D,” Lakeside County Club; and “E,” Eureka Williams Co.
What else can you see? Who remembers the water tower north of Holiday Club?
Seen here is 85-year-old Emma Cook, on the porch of her Saybrook home, looking at a portrait of her late husband Riley Cook, a veteran who died in July 1918. Mrs. Cook was the village’s last Civil War widow. She passed away on August 5, 1941.
Art Carnahan (left), manager of the Bloomington Municipal Airport (now Central Illinois Regional Airport), greets Harold Medbery, a pilot from the Tazewell County community of Armington. Medbery brought in nine pouches of airmail from towns southwest and west of Bloomington. That mail was then loaded onto a waiting Chicago & Southern airliner.
This May 1938 demonstration was staged for National Airmail Week.
Here’s a group of Y-Teens from the Bloomington YWCA, March 29, 1958, selling Easter lilies in the State Farm Insurance Co. headquarters downtown. The girls are not identified, but that’s Gladys Martin (left) and Betty Moore in the back.
The girls were raising money for the local chapter of the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults.
Bloomington Federal Savings & Loan Association claimed to be the first financial institution in Illinois to make use of the NCR 390 computer, which was capable of calculating dividends and mortgage interest—among many other miraculous feats!
This mystery photograph comes from the Museum’s collection of Pantagraph negatives. We don’t know the names of these kids or the rural location of this cistern or stock pond. If you can help with the identification, let us know!
The McLean County Museum of History announced today five recipients of the 2017 History Makers award to be presented during the Museum’s sixth annual History Makers Gala on Thursday, June 15
Craig Hart was born on January 11, 1934 in Streator, Illinois. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics and his master’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.
The story of how Jeanne and Charles Morris met “usually gets a smile,” according to Charles. Jeanne and Charles Morris grew up in entirely different states, but met in college while working at a camp on Squam Lake in Holderness, New Hampshire. Although they then went their separate ways—Jeanne back to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and Charles back to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina—the two kept in touch as they finished up their undergraduate degrees.
Judy Stone was born in Columbus, Ohio on July 21, 1932. After growing up in Ohio, Judy received her bachelor’s degree in English and attended Northwestern University in Evanston for her master’s degree in History. It was in Evanston that Judy met her husband Jerry, who was working on his PhD.
Jesse Smart was born on April 29, 1939 on a small family farm in Pike County, IL.
After graduating as class valedictorian at East Pike High School, Jesse went on to study agricultural education at the University of Illinois. It was there, in Urbana-Champaign, that Jesse met his wife Susan.
In a pre-Arbor Day observance, members of Lincoln School’s eighth grade class watch Jack Elledge shovel dirt around a newly planted elm tree. Lincoln School, located in Bloomington’s South Hill neighborhood, is now operated by the city’s parks & recreation department as a community center.
Did anyone out there attend Lincoln School back in the day?
This circa early 1930s portrait of Elizabeth Paullin Funk was taken by Clara Brian, longtime McLean County Home Bureau adviser. The Museum holds several hundred of her photographs.
Elizabeth Paullin married Marquis de LaFayette Funk in 1864. He built the sprawling country residence outside of Shirley that is now the Funk Prairie Home historic site. Elizabeth is seen here in the Prairie Home’s living room.
The gentlemen in the center is Joseph “Private Joe” Fifer of Bloomington, who served as Illinois governor from 1889 to 1893. For Memorial Day 1934. Fifer, a Civil War veteran, recited Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to a crowd gathered at Bloomington Cemetery (now part of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery). On the right is A.T. Ives, another Civil War veteran.
Dr. Thomas Moate, who practiced medicine in Gridley for 50 years, picked up knitting at the age of 70. He’s seen here in mid-April 1947 at the age of 74. By this time Moate was bedridden, but knitting helped pass the hours.
“I don’t know what heaven’s like, but if it’s anything like Gridley, I’ll like it,” he told The Pantagraph at the time. Dr. Moate passed away on May 31, 1947 at the age of 75.
That’s “Jake,” a pointer puppy owned by “bird dog man” G.S. Bryant of Springfield and handled here by E.T. Burke of Farmersville. Jake was a guest, one might say, of the Bloomington Pointer and Setter Club, which staged its annual spring trials in early April 1946 on club grounds outside of the Village of Downs.
Seen here is 30-year-old judicial candidate Robert C. Underwood (left) at an unidentified Town of Normal polling station, casting his ballot in the spring 1945 election. Underwood, in his first bid for elective office, would defeat sitting County Judge Dewey Montgomery by a nearly two-to-one margin.
J.C. Penney opened in the new Eastland Shopping Center (now Eastland Mall) on November 10, 1966. This photograph was taken a day before the grand opening as employees readied the store for the expected crush of bargain hunters.
Several weeks ago we ran a photograph from a set of 1954 negatives showing the staff of Aegis, the BHS student newspaper. Here’s another one.
Gathered around the desk of Aegis editor Su Selders (that’s Sue without the “e”) are Pat Jones, assistant editor; Don Owen, business manager; and Ann Alcott, reporter.
Timothy P. Irvin (left, kneeling in front of the guitar) formed The Shattertons in 1960 as a high school freshman. Six years later the band was performing local gigs.
This undated photo shows Bill Dorothy (left) and James “Pop” Tucker working the backstage area of the Majestic Theatre. Located at the corner of East and Washington streets, the Majestic opened in 1910 as a vaudeville house. It was torn in 1956.
This photograph was taken by Karl Blakney, a longtime local theater projectionist who was also an amateur photographer. The Museum holds a collection of Blakney’s photographs.
A.V. Ritchie of Colfax received $225 (or about $2,500 in today’s dollars) for this gilt at a January 22, 1947 Spotted Poland China sale at the Illinois State Normal University farm. Before turning over the day’s top earner he treated her to some pie.
This April 13, 1946, scene shows Bloomington veterinarian Dr. Fred H. Conover giving a warm weather trim to Fancy Pants.
This undated view shows Bloomington Creamery on the 100 block of South East Street. We’re not sure, but that could be creamery manager A.H. Tobias on the left. Today, the shuttered C II East office building is located on this site.
“New” Bloomington High School, which opened four years earlier, is seen here in a June 1963 aerial. The view is looking southwest. Note the beginnings of Towanda Plaza in the lower right.
What else can you see of interest?
Robert Bible (left) and Wilson Hall of the International Derrick and Equipment Co. of Columbus, Ohio, work on the installation of WJBC’s new radio tower. This 400-foot steel tower was adjacent to the station’s under-construction office and studio building off Route 66 (now Veterans Parkway) on the southwest edge of Bloomington.
Sixty-eight years later WJBC is still located at this site.
This aerial shows Interstate 74 under construction southeast of Bloomington in the fall of 1965. Note the abrupt end of the interstate at the bottom of this photo. Talk about traffic delays!
The Aegis is Bloomington High School’s longtime student newspaper. Here’s chief photographer Bob Stoner in late October 1954 snapping BHS students Mary Ellen Ponsford and Courtney Read, both holding fund drive posters.
Who has fond memories working for their school newspaper?
Melton “Cotton” McNabney and his wife Millie took over management of this downtown eatery in 1948. Located in the basement of the three-story building on the northeast corner of Main and Monroe streets, some old-timers might remember Millie McNabney’s ham loaf, creamed chicken pie, or Swiss steak and pan gravy.
Back in 1938, Model-Paris Launderers & Cleaners had two location in the Twin Cities: 208-216 E. Market St., seen here, and the corner of Beaufort Street and Broadway Avenue in Normal.
The Model-Paris building shown here is long gone. Today the old building site is—what else!—a surface parking lot.
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).
The Illinois Wesleyan legend is seen here as a promising freshman guard. A native of Anchor, a small village in eastern McLean County, Bridges would go on to coach the men’s team for 36 seasons, leading the Titans to a NCAA Division III national championship in 1997. He retired as the university’s athletic director in 2015.
This undated photograph shows a Pantagraph motorcycle and sidecar at the corner of Madison and Washington streets. The view is looking east. What a way to deliver newspapers!
Behind the stylish rider is the Hills Hotel, which later became the Tilden-Hall, which was torn down in 1962.
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.
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
This undated photograph was taken not too long before this historic house, a mix of Second Empire and Italianate architectural styles, was torn down.
On February 10, 1942, new University of Illinois head football coach Ray Eliot (that’s Eliot with one “L”) addressed the Young Men’s Club at the Illinois Hotel in downtown Bloomington. Eliot would go on to lead the Illini for 18 seasons, winning 3 Big Ten titles and 2 Rose Bowls.
Who remembers television coming to their home? In June 1949, The Pantagraph reported on the arrival of television to several area communities.
At the time of this photograph, Funk Bros. Seed Co. operated the grain silos and complex of buildings seen in the lower half of this view. The plant in the upper right shows a Ralston-Purina Co. facility. Today, the Funk Bros. silos are home to Upper Limits, the popular climbing gym. Cargill, Inc. now operates the Ralston-Purina site.
What else do you see here?
A massive knot disfigured an old black oak on the Charles Hall farm one mile east of Heyworth. Seen here is young Eugene Smith of Heyworth examining this unnatural-looking natural oddity.
This early summer scene shows a crowd gathered outside the Western Union office on the 200 block of West Washington Street. The business had been evacuated due to a fire call (note the BFD engine parked in the middle of the street).
On February 6 and 7, 1947, Community Players Theatre staged the domestic drama “Craig’s Wife.” The theater company’s current home on Robinhood Lane did not open until 1962, so at this time plays were held at the Scottish Rite Temple (now the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts).
We don’t know who’s who here. If you can identify anyone, please let us know.
On February 11, 1953, Illinois Wesleyan beat visiting Illinois State Normal 98-66 at the old Memorial Hall gymnasium (now IWU’s Hansen Student Center).
Five BHS swimmers prepare for the Big 12 Conference meet in Peoria in this mid-February 1953 scene. Left to right: Peter Whitmer, Hal Johnstone, Ray Baxter, Chuck Dunbar, and Adlai Rust, Jr.
After 33 years with C.W. Klemm’s, a locally owned department store in downtown Bloomington, Carrie Behrend retired on Saturday, February 1, 1958. She had spent the past 14 years in the pattern department. Located on the north side of the Courthouse Square, Klemm’s closed in November 1981.
Miss Behrend passed away on August 8, 1964.
Spring training for Major League Baseball clubs began this week. In this early March 1942 scene on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus (that’s still-standing Memorial Hall) senior catcher Hugh Dickie (with bat) plays a little “pepper” with teammates (left to right) Berthyl Brigham, Walter Wadington, Jim Fletcher, and Ralph Zeitz.
On Friday, Jan. 30, 1953, local restaurants donated proceeds from their coffee sales to the March of Dimes and the campaign to combat infantile paralysis, commonly known as polio. Here is waitress Pauline McGath pouring coffee for truck drivers (left to right) Mack Rutledge, Gene Dreelan, and “Slick” Evans.
Leon Jaeger, an underwriting superintendent for State Farm Insurance, examines a frilly item for his wife Ruth several days before Valentine’s Day 1953. That’s longtime Livingston’s department store clerk Litta Ballow lending a helping hand.
John Pratt, who in a few days time would marry Geraldine Dillon in a Valentine’s Day ceremony, is seen here in a downtown Bloomington store sampling scents for his bride-to-be.
An area resident visited downtown Shirley on horseback, presumably as a way to limit the wear and tear on his auto or tractor tires!
Way back on December 8, 1940, Pantagraph sports editor Fred “Brick” Young was the field judge in the Chicago Bears 73-0 whopping of Washington in the league’s championship game (the Super Bowl debuted in 1967).
The Pantagraph ran this photograph on Valentine’s Day 1947—nearly 70 years ago. Seen here are Raymond School students Jackie Myers and Carol Ann Kominoski sharing a special valentine’s moment … while the teacher isn’t looking, of course!
Do you have any school day valentine memories?
Arnold Beatty (left) and Colman Hicks, at the O.V. Douglass farm outside of Shirley, demonstrate patching a worn-out tire after yet another blowout. With a severe wartime shortage of rubber tires, area farmers were calling for the reintroduction of metal wheels for tractors and wagons.
This view, looking north-northeast, shows the future site of Bloomington Public Library (opened in 1977).
The Rockets were an informal team connected to the Twin-City Recreation Center, 318 S. Main St., Bloomington. They played games Friday night at the old Jefferson School. Reggie Whittaker (far left) was the head coach, and Willy Tripp (far right) his assistant.
Jane and Doug Freitag horse around with a canine friend at their family farm outside of Stanford in Allin Township.
We don’t know why this photograph was taken, or why it never appeared in the newspaper. We don’t even know the bowling alley Ms. Schulz is patronizing. Can anyone out there help clue us in?
For much of the 20th century the Twin Cities had segregated American Legion posts. Seen here are Redd-Williams post members and auxiliary leaders planning a President’s Birthday Ball for January 30, 1942.
On February 8, 1959, The Pantagraph featured photographs of local women wearing the latest in fashionable hats.
This undated aerial offers a wealth of fascinating detail.
Gene Durham (22) of Saybrook-Arrowsmith High attempts a layup during the 1959 county tournament championship game. Attempting to thwart the layup is Bill Hutson (20) of Octavia, the consolidated high school in Colfax (the school is known as Ridgeview today). Octavia won 66-58 for its third county title in three years.
Members of the Bloomington Loyal Order of the Moose staged a rabbit hunt in south-central Illinois, between Pana and Vandalia, in January 1947.
Thelma Thomas and her brother Glenn examine her grand champion gilt at the Illinois State Normal University Farm.
The Mitsubishi Motors U.S.A. Foundation, in partnership with O'Brien Mitsubishi of Normal, presented the McLean County Museum of History today with a $50,000 gift to support the Museum’s free education programs and to help complete ongoing upgrades that are outlined by the Museum’s Extending Excellence campaign.
That’s Bob Butler on the white pony towing Eugene Stauffer, third-place soap box derby finisher in the Class B division.