Friday, July 28, 2006

Neighborhood walk photos

The 4th annual Vachel Lindsay Home Neighborhood walk was a great success by all accounts. These photos were sent to me by Jennie Battles, Site Administrator of the VL Home, and were taken by her husband. That's me addressing the throng in front of the First Christian Church.

Below, we are gathered on the front steps of the Elijah Iles House on the corner of Seventh and Cook Streets, just one block from its original location on Sixth and Cook where the First Christian Church now stands.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Walking tour of Lindsay's neighborhood

Just a quick note to say I'll be speaking at the Vachel Lindsay Home neighborhood walk tomorrow morning at 9:15 A.M. The first stop after gathering at the Lindsay home will be the First Christian Church (pictured here). This was the church where the Lindsay family worshipped and where Lindsay gave his last public recital. This Gothic Revival structure was built in 1912 on the southwest corner of Sixth and Cook Streets, the original site of the Elijah Iles House. I found the image of the church here, along with a reference to one of my great-great-great-grandfathers, Richard Latham.

The Iles House, Springfield's oldest surviving structure by 1910, was going to be demolished to make way for the new church. Recognizing the historical importance of the house, Latham and Lyna Souther purchased the structure and moved it to another location, making it their home for the rest of their lives and saving it for future generations.

Souther's family had been members of the church and were family friends of the Lindsay's for many years. Latham, who followed his father in the banking business, became the trust officer of the estate of Vachel's father and was intimately involved in the Lindsay family finances. His wife, Lyna Souther, was a good friend of Vachel's and collaborated with him in the creation of Springfield's municipal flag.

The next stop on the walking tour will be the Elijah Iles House, which has been moved back closer to its original location. I'll discuss Lindsay's visit to the house sometime around 1920, and discuss the book he gave to Lyna filled with critical annotations on his vision for Springfield.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Ford Garage

This is a "before" shot of the Ford Garage in Springfield taken in the Spring of 2005. The building now has been restored to the tune of $5 million according to a story by Lisa Kernek in the State-Journal Register on June 28, 2006.

Its owner, Illinois National Bank, could have simply renovated the structure for far less money. Instead, they restored the building to meet the standards of the National Register of Historic Places.

Vachel Lindsay knew and loved this building. It was built right around the corner from his house, on the northwest corner of 4th and Jackson Streets.

In annotations he left in a copy of Walled Towns by R.A. Cram, Lindsay listed the Ford Garage in Springfield along with Bush Terminal Building, the Times Building, the Golden Door of the Transportation Building, by Louis Sullivan, and the Dana-Thomas House, by Frank Lloyd Wright, as examples of an architectural spirit in the tradition of John Ruskin, an architecture born of the soil like the Gothic in Europe.

"All these are modern forms, born in this soil, yet capable of development in the spirit of Cram's book, or Ruskin's wonderful description of the nature of Gothic," wrote Lindsay around 1920.