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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 09:26 am

Handsome ghosts

 You really ought to go see "Shifting Sands: Springfield's Architectural Legacy, Part 2," a photographic portrait of a changing Springfield. Co-curated by the excellent Erika Holst, a regular contributor to these pages, and Curtis Mann of Lincoln's Library's Sangamon Valley Collection, the exhibit will be up at the Springfield Art Association, 700 N. Fourth St. through April 1.

Look in particular for the 1880s photograph of the Springfield Woolen Mill which graced the northeast corner of Fourth and Jackson streets on the Y block. I say “graced” because that factory reminds us of the aesthetic possibilities of brick even in utilitarian structures. That block has some very handsome ghosts.

By the time I got to know that neighborhood in the 1950s the mill was long gone. The intersection was the heart of Springfield's original "Automobile Row." One of the old dealerships, the old Jennings Ford, built in 1919, still stands across the street, now, happily, converted into apartments. On the old mill site was another dealership which in 1959 was where the R. E. Broe Co., a Chrysler dealer, did business.

In 1959 Broe's showroom was the setting for a stunt during which Jim Austin of WCVS-AM tried to set a new world record for consecutive sleepless hours by publicity-hungry deejays. He didn’t, although the mayor came down to congratulate him for giving the ol’ Springfield try.  

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