Saturday, August 26, 2006

Tall Ships

During August 3-9, the city of Chicago hosted a parade of Tall Ships, a collection of antique and classic boats from many nations of the world. Visitors were invited to board the boats and also watch them under sail along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Included were barques, brigs, caravels, ketches, schooners, and sloops. Ships of this size often sailed the Great Lakes, at least during open water seasons.

Dulany Sriner, who often photographs the Iles House, visited Chicago that weekend and took many beautiful shots, which are available in prints from D's Digitals.

Here are two of his pictures, for which we send many thanks.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Final Tasks

The last major construction project at Iles House began on August 17, building an elevator addition and patio. They will reach completion within the next 30-60 days. The elevator will provide ADA-compliant access to the first floor and much-needed storage space on the first floor and lower level.
Workmen are installing the patio in brick pavers; these will have engraved names of persons who supported the House restoration.

The final tasks are placement of a Ball Township quarry stone, the same type used in building the Old State Capitol, and planting a prairie garden on the rear upper lawn. That will complete many years of fund-raising and planning to restore the Iles House into a museum of early Springfield history.

Photos and Story by Dick Hart.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

National Night Out

Iles House sits on Aristocracy Hill, once a prime residential area in Springfield, from downtown to South Grand, and 2nd to 8th Streets. Photographs from an 1898 book depict the homes of prominent families, including Dirksen, Reisch, Lawrence, Herndon, Conkling, Kreider, Vancil, and Ridgeley.

On the evening of August 1, current residents of Aristocracy Hill celebrated National Night Out at the Iles House. NNO encourages neighborhoods to work with local police to build a strong community spirit and prevent crime. See this Journal-Register story on the evening.

Neighbors brought covered dishes and Chris Butler, president of the Kirlin, Eagan, and Butler Funeral Home provided fried chicken. The evening was quite hot, but guests ate in the air-conditioned comfort of the Iles House lower level.

Prairie Fire, a local bluegrass band, provided period and recent music that greatly added to the pleasure of the evening, as neighbors met, visited, and exchanged stories.

Among the guests were organizers Judith Penseanu-Feurer and Bill Feurer, and members of the Aristocracy Hill Board of Directors. Others attending were Representative Raymond Poe and City Council members Bill Bartolomucci, Bruce Strum, and Judy Yaeger.

Judith Penseanu-Feurer, President of the Aristocracy Hill Neighborhood Association, challenged everyone to preserve this great historic neighborhood and its security: "Little step by little step, we will make our neighborhood one that the entire City will point to with pride."

Pictures by Dick Hart and Dulany Sriner.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Our Neighborhood

Dulany Sriner and Dick Hart have supplied several images that portray the neighborhood around Iles House. Above you see the newly-painted parking lot wall at Seventh and Cook, from within the front yard garden. Notice the exotic grasses in full glory. They seem to prosper in late summer heat!

This view, from the Cook Street side, shows the yard and a view of the Illinois State Capitol, about a mile distant.

Here's another view of the State Capitol, from the Cook Street side, showing the newly completed fence and side walk.

The area around the Iles House once contained the finest homes in Springfield and was known as Aristocracy Hill. More about that in our next entry.

Many thanks to Dulany and Dick for their pictures.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Summer Decorations

The Iles House has been wearing handsome patriotic decorations ever since the Fourth of July. Dulany Sriner took this photo of the house on a recent summer afternoon. Dulany has many other images of the house, available as prints from his web site, D's Digitals.

One element the house has lacked is adequate off-street parking. Now, thanks to the generosity of AIG, successors to the Franklin Life Insurance Company, a quarter-block of parking is available at the southeast corner of Seventh and Cook Streets. Additional spaces are at the rear of the house, reserved for visitors who need to use the access ramp to reach the Museum level.

As a bonus decoration, Helen Stannard, a Springfield artist, volunteered to create a mural painting on the parking lot wall. Below you see her work in progress, featuring a cheerful summer sky and prairie garden. Would you like to see this entire wall painted? Please give us your comments below.