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.

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