Saturday, December 15, 2012

2 East Main Street

There have been two buildings constructed at this address since 1850, The Gazette Building and The Kresge Building.  The Gazette Building was built by the Champaign County Gazette in 1875-76 on the land procured by the estate of J.W. Scroggs ($3,500) and B.F. Harris ($4,500).  The corner stone was laid on July 18, 1875 and the building completed in time for the Centennial year celebrations on January 15, 1876.  Before this time the Gazette has been operating in the upper floors of 28 Main Street.  The building was designed by architect Seeley Brown and constructed by Mr. E.F. Gehlman.  Due to several weeks of rain, the project was delayed a bit with the staff hoping to move during Christmas or what they describe as the week of "jollification".  However, only the presses were moved during this time and the building was complete in January.  The building shared occupancy with three additional businesses, P.Terbush's barber-shop in the eastern portion of the basement, Dr. Brown's drug store on the south end of the first floor, and the US Post Office on the eastern half of the first floor.

UPDATE: Read a full description of the Gazette Building as it appeared in the Champaign County Gazette on March 29, 1876. 

A line drawing found in the 1887 Illustrated History
of Champaign County.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Museum 

Original photo of the newly completed Gazette
Building.  Shortly after this photo, the streets
were bricked.

A view of the Gazette Building (left) with the Metropolitan Building (right).
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Archives

A "Trolley Traffic Jam" at the intersection of Main, Church and Neil Street.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Archives
A view of the western facade during a WWI "Prep Parade"

A view of the Gazette Building looking south east down Neil and Main Streets.

Following the razing of the Gazette Building just prior to spring 1927. The Kresge Building was constructed on this site.  The building took the basic shape of the Gazette Building and are often confused for one another but these are two separate buildings.  The S.S. Kresge Company on Detroit Michigan were the owners and builders with the contact being let on May 16, 1927.  

Kresge Building seen after completion.
Photo courtesy of the Sholem Family

A view of Neil Street looking south from Church Street showing Kresge Building
to the left and the, still under construction, city building in the background.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Archives

While not as famous as the Times Square photo, this image, captured on VJ Day
became a symbolic photo in Champaign of the end of World War II.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Archives

Following the closure of Kresge's, the building housed several occupants including
Parkland College.  Parkland began operation in Downtown Champaign, using
a number of buildings for various departments.  Many would argue that this
temporary use helped to protect many buildings in Downtown Champaign from
being razed during the 1970s.

Another view of Neil Street prior to the pedestrian mall.  The Kresge Building is
on the left.
A view of Neil Street (Kresge Building to left) showing the completed pedestrian
mall between 1976 and 1986.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Archives

1 Main Street as it appeared in the 80s prior to the removal of the Downtown
Pedestrian Mall.

The Kresge Building was given new life when it was one of the first to house a
trendy bar and night club.  "02" as it was called helped to stabilize the
building and give new energy to Downtown Champaign.
Photo courtesy of TJ Blakeman

A 2011 view of 2 Main Street looking southeast towards Campustown.
Photo courtesy of TJ Blakeman 


  1. TJ, Any idea what was in the Kresge building between the time Kresge's moved across the street and the Parkland Library in the late 60s?

    1. At one time McBride's had a drug store at that location

  2. TJ Where did you get all the early info about the Gazette Building? I had no idea we knew the year it was built or that it was a Seely Brown design. And where did you get the demolition date of 1927?

    MIKE: Kresge actually operated both stores simultaneously. One store was basically a five and dime. The other sold slightly more expensive goods. In the 1930s the building was bought be a man named Bilderback who was a broker, speculator and he renamed it for himself. Bilderback built a big house on Park St just west of Prospect, the first house on the south side. Its now owned by John Hadley.

  3. Mark, I have a narrative that was written by the staff at the Gazette that give the entire history of the building, including a description of each interior space and the presses that they used. I have put it in PDF for but haven't uploaded it yet. As for the demolition, there is an article I found using the Daily Illini archives that explained that. By the way, did you see that I added helpful links at the top. Included is that archive and the online directories.

  4. The spires of the Gazette building help me to get my bearings many times, in old photographs of Downtown Champaign. Great collection of photographs and facts!

  5. Thanks for the info on S.S. Kresge Co. I like the street name mentioned.

    Neil Kresge