Saturday, December 31, 2005

UIS Archives

As Springfield grows more active in preserving its heritage, local archives of historic material become increasingly important. In months to come we will feature some of these collections and the treasures they are safekeeping.

The Historical and Manuscript Collections at the University of Illinois at Springfield contain a wealth of papers and objects that document area and regional history.

From the collection home page, you may view a list of the items and then click through to use a finding aid or see an online exhibit.

One example is the collection of Robert Guymon, containing letters written by such eminences as Elijah Iles, Shelby Cullom, Jabez Capps, and Logan Hay. Included are a 1901 menu from the Leland Hotel, color snapshots of graves at Oak Ridge Cemetery, and a set of historic postcards of Springfield scenes, 1877-1911.

The card above depicts the Washington Park Pavilion, ca. 1906; below is downtown Fifth Street looking north, ca. 1905. The ironwork archway at Fifth and Washington is just visible at the rear, left of the old Illinois National Bank Building.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Winter Evenings

Iles House tours are becoming quite popular, with 300 to 500 guests turning out each weekend to admire the home by day or candle light, and also to see the holiday decorations.

On exhibit are rare items from the David Barringer Collection, described in an exhibition catalog prepared by Floyd Mansberger. The catalog is availble for sale at the House.

The house looks good by night or day, especially with a fresh coat of snow. Call (217) 492-5929 to inquire about tour hours.

All photos by Dulany Sriner and copyright 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

More Candlelight

In the spirit of the holidays, here are more candlelight pictures of Iles House interiors by Dulany Sriner. He now has a web site available to offer prints of his excellent photos.

Two local history sites have recently come online: Springfield Rewind by Russ Friedewald and New Springfield by Larry Stevens, a great-grandson of Latham and Lyna Souther, former owners of the Elijah Iles House. Russ features changes in town architecture and Larry's interests include genealogy and Vachel Lindsay.

I am including permanent links to their sites on the right and to my SHS '58 blog, which often includes items on Springfield history. It's great to see so much interest in preserving our town's long and lively past.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Candlelight Tours

Late in October, the Iles House opened for candlelight tours on Friday and Saturday nights. In candlelight, the restored surfaces and preserved antiques take on a mellow and mysterious glow. One can almost hear the past come alive.

Pictures copyright 2005 by Dulany Sriner of Springfield, Illinois.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Iles House Photo Gallery

The Springfield Journal-Register has posted a photo gallery of 16 pictures of the Iles House at various stages of its history, from early days to the relocation and restoration on the present site, Seventh and Cook Streets.

Included are an 1860s portrait of Iles and interiors of the home, furnished with period antiques. Picture credits and photo reprints are available at the SJR site.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Barringer Collection

Also attending the opening banquet were Mrs. Winifred Barringer and her nephew, Justin Barringer, a student at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Winifred and her husband, Dr. Floyd Barringer, are the owners of a magnificent collection of early Sangamon County antiques, which form the inaugural exhibit in the Elijah Iles House.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Banquet Guests

Many guests gathered under a tent on the south lawn of Iles House to celebrate the opening banquet. Pictured above are Michael Scully and Bryn Henderson. Mr. Scully is president of the Union Station Foundation, which has contributed generously to the restoration of Iles house. Mrs. Henderson is the wife of Wally Henderson, a board member of the Foundation.

Pictured below are Chuck and Sue Campton, who portrayed Major Elijah Iles and his wife, Melinda Iles, in period costumes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Museum of Springfield History

Before the opening banquet, the lower level exhibit area was dedicated as the Farrell and Ann Gay Museum of Springfield History.

Pictured here are (center) Farrell and Ann Gay, and their sons and spouses, (left) Cole and Sharon Gay and (right) Todd and Susie Gay.

For some recent news stories on the Iles House opening, see the State Journal-Register, and Chicago WBBM-TV.

You may also listen to an NPR interview on Living in Illinois, archived under the date 9/15/05. You will need RealPlayer to listen.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


On Friday, September 23, 2005, the Elijah Iles House opened to the public. At a festive Opening Banquet that evening, the invited guests included many persons who contributed so generously to make this dream a reality.

Over the next few days, we will bring you a series of photos from the event. Pictured here are the designated greeters, Curt Mann and Linda Garvert. In the background are Chuck and Sue Campton, portraying the banquet hosts, Mrs. Melinda and Major Elijah Iles.

All pictures are courtesy of Richard Hart.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Grand Opening

Today marks the Grand Opening of the Elijah Iles House, Springfield's Museum of History. The House is not about any one person or family. It is about all of the citizens of Springfield and their many stories: schools, work places, churches, ethnic groups, service clubs, entertainments and sports. These many wonderful stories will now have a place to be told.

At the Grand Opening ceremony at 11:00 today, a key to the House will pass from one generation to the next. Latham Souther and Larry Stevens, both direct descendants of Mr. & Mrs. Latham Souther, will represent the Souther's important role in saving the House in 1910. They were truly Springfield's first preservationists.

The House has stood witness to the lives of all Springfield citizens since 1837 and it is now a place for all of Springfield's citizens to enjoy. Please come to the Grand Opening at 11:00 and see for yourself.

Richard E. Hart, Board Member, Elijah Iles House Foundation

Sunday, July 31, 2005


The Elijah Iles House is the oldest surviving home in Springfield, Illinois. Built in 1827 by a city founder, Charles Matheny, the home was occupied by Elijah Iles (1796-1883), who was Springfield's first merchant. He was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and fought with him in the Black Hawk War of 1832. Iles later helped Lincoln bring the Illinois capitol to Springfield, and he supported Lincoln's campaigns for political office.

The house originally stood at the southeast corner of Sixth and Cook and later at 1825 South Fifth. In 1990, the Iles House Foundation incorporated as a non-profit group to give the home a new location on the northeast corner of Seventh and Cook. The foundation has raised funds to sponsor a restoration of the building as a museum and conference center.

On September 23 and 24, 2005, the Iles House will have a grand opening. Watch this space for further announcements.

If you would like to become a member and support historic preservation in Sangamon County, write to The Elijah Iles Foundation, P. O. Box 144, Springfield, Illinois 62705