Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Elijah Iles House and Vachel

Newer research reveals historic connections between The Vachel Lindsay Home and The Elijah Iles House (shown here) in Springfield, Illinois. For instance, the purchaser of the Iles House who rescued it from destruction in 1910, Latham T. Souther, was the trust officer of the Lindsay family estate. Latham's wife, Lyna Souther, was a leading figure in the Springfield Art Association who worked with Lindsay on the design contest for Springfield's municipal flag. Lindsay was known to have visited Lyna at the Iles House, probably to present her with a book by another author which he had filled with critical annotations on the subject of Utopia.

Lyna and Latham Souther are remembered and honored today for their forward-looking investment in the Elijah Iles House without which Springfield would have lost this precious jewel in her crown.

The Elijah Iles House is now the home of The Farrell and Ann Gay Museum of Springfield History, the first-ever museum dedicated to Springfield history. The premier exhibit is "A Time to Remember," featuring Mr. Gay's own extensive collection of Illinois watches and Illinois Watch Company memorabilia. The curators of the exhibit are Ed Russo and the Vachel Lindsay Association's own Corrine Frisch and they have done a fantastic job indeed.

Vachel Lindsay made specific reference to the Illinois Watch Company in The Golden Book of Springfield. The watch company had its own observatory during Lindsay's time, which explains why Lindsay describes it in 2018 as a place where microscope and telescope lenses are made. "A Time to Remember" features a beautiful display of the observatory.