Sunday, December 23, 2012

30 East Main Street

The first building constructed on this parcel was a small wood frame commercial building that is depicted in the 1858 Urbana-West Urbana map by Alexander Bowman and the 1869 birds eye map.  

Alexander Bowan's 1858 Map of Urbana and West Urbana

1869 Birdseye map of Champaign, Illinois

This photo is believed to be that building, the "People's Store", along with the rest of the south side of Main Street (looking west/southwest).

This photo is believed to be the south side of Main Street looking west from
Walnut Street.  That would place 30 Main Street to the far left of the image
(People's Store).

Joseph McCorkle owns both lots on the southwest corner of Walnut and
Main Street which correlates to the name above the hardware sign in the
photo above.

While this photo's location isn't verified it seems to fit with the birds eye image and the hardware store (second building) displays the name Jos. McCorkle above the sign which correlates to the owner of the land on the plat map. 

This building remained until it was razed to make way for the new First National Bank in 1872.

First National Bank Building (1st Building)
Constructed 1872
Architect: Unknown
Builder: Unknown
Construction Method: Wood, brick, stone

The First National Bank was established in 1865 by local cattle baron and land owner Benjamin Franklin (B.F.) Harris.  This bank was first "national" bank following the passage of the National Banking Act.  The banks charter was secured January 30, 1865 and was signed by a personal friend of B.F. Harris', Abraham Lincoln.  The bank was originally located near 45 Main Street but quickly outgrew its home.  In 1872, Mr. Harris constructed his building dedicated to his bank.

Benjamin Franklin Harris, founder and president of the
First National Bank.
Courtesy of Melissa Chambers

A view of the original First National Bank Building located on the southwest
of Walnut and Main Streets.
Courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives

First National Bank Building (2nd Building)
Constructed: 1909-1910
Owner: B.F. Harris
Architect: Mundie and Jensen
Builder: Unknown
Construction Method: Steel, brick, stone

Constructed in 1909-10 the First National Bank Building represents one of the fist steel-constructed buildings in Champaign.  The Chicago firm Mundie and Jensen designed the second renaissance revival structure and was described as representing the strength of B.F. Harris' mighty financial empire.  


A view of the early excavation for the new First National Bank.
Courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives

Another view of the excavation showing 29 Main Street sitting on the
opposite corner along with a streetcar heading to a drop off location on
North Walnut Street.
Courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives

A rendering of the new First National Bank building
at 30 East Main Street.

Another view of the building circa 1920s
Courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Museum

Courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives


Interior view of the main lobby.  Most of the ornamentation was lost in
subsequent remodels but the marble table in the center of this
photo still exists and can be seen temporarily at Spritz Jewelers on Neil Street.
The table was a recent donation to the Champaign Co. Historical Museum.


This view of the bank circa late 50s/early 60s shows its placement on the corner
with its neighbors (Imperial Building on Walnut and 28 Main Street).
Courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives

A detail of the limestone facade facing Main Street.
Courtesy of Terry J. Blakeman





Monday, December 17, 2012

29 East Main Street

Many might of passed 29 Main Street and never gave it a second glance.  There is nothing overly spectacular about this two story structure that sits on the northeast corner of Walnut and Main Streets.  However, there are very few parcels in Downtown, where you will find a building that is original to the City of Champaign itself.  29 Main Street is one of those buildings.  Today it sits nearly the same as it did when its first brick was laid in the early 1860s.  While Downtown has drastically changed around it, 29 Main Street continues to anchor this important block of Main Street.  Its only change over time have been the removal of its front cornice.    

29 Main Street (left) was the first brick building constructed on the block
bound by Walnut and Chestnut Street.  You will notice the Doane House
at the end of the block.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Archives

29 Main Street (left) as it appears next to its neighbor
31 Main Street (Champaign Times building - still standing).
The Trevett & Green Building loomed large
on the block before fire destroyed the building.
29 Main Street as seen on May 27, 1931.  Sam Weingarten closed this store
the following year and Kroger opened a small grocer.
Photo courtesy of William Youngerman
  
29 Main Street seen here as a Kroger on September 26, 1934.
Photo courtesy of the Sholem Family. 

The building was eventually purchased by the Kuhn family and incorporated
into the store.  The second floor was home to the Advertising Department.
This photo was taken in 1984.
Photo courtesy of William Youngerman

29 Main Street as it appears today.  The ground floor houses Skins N' Tins
Drum Shop and a small barber shop.  The upper floor is vacant.  However,
the building exists today as it has since the first brick was laid.
Photo courtesy of TJ Blakeman

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 















Friday, December 14, 2012

1 East Main Street


There is no better place to start this blog than 1 Main Street.  The first building constructed on this site was Barrett Hall and was one of the first brick structure's in the city.  It was completed in 1865 on the northeast corner of Main and Neil Streets.  What made this particular building (and address) unique is that it was numbered 1 Main Street and not 2 Main Street.  This section of Main Street is the only section in town to this day where you will find the odd number structure on the north side of the street.  Everywhere else in Champaign the odd number appears on the south side of the street.  It is said this happened because of the fact that it was in deed the first brick structure on Main Street.  Barrett Hall is also notable because it functioned as one of the first public gather places in town.  Notable speakers included Fredrick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony.  The building was razed in 1950 and replaced by Grants Department Store.  This structure survived until a devastating fire gutted all of the buildings around Grants.  The building was finally razed in the late 80's making way for a municipal parking lot.  The current Building (One Main Building) was completed in 2004.

Notable businesses that have occupied 1 Main Street:

Barrett Hall
  • Swannell Drug Store
  • Weingarten's
  • Browns Business School
  • Vaky (The Frat) Confectionery
  • McBrides Drug Store
Grants Building
  • Grants Department Store
  • The Poison Apple
One Main Building
  • Jim Gould Restaurant
  • KoFusion
  • Merry Ann's Diner
  • Big Grover Tavern

One of the earliest photos of Main Street circa 1860s looking east from Neil Street.
The streets were quickly paved with  brick by the 1870s.
Photo courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives
Another view of Barrett Hall with Swannell Drug Store and Weingarten's

A view of Barrett Hall circa 1890 showing the large wall advertisement
for the Swannell Drug Store.
Photo courtesy of Champaign County Historical Museum
View of Barrett Hall near the turn of the 20th century.  Note the well to the left
of the photo which has been returned to its location in
what was then Hickory Street and now the One Main Plaza.

An interior photo of The Frat Confectionery.
Photo courtesy of Russell Vaky 

This photo by Charles W. Webster in March of 1950 shows the preparations
being made prior to razing the building later that year.
Photo courtesy of Champaign County Archives

Barrett Hall was carefully razed in 1950 to make way for a new
W.T. Grant and Co. Department Store.
Photo courtesy of  Brandon Haist


The new Grant Department store after it opened in 1951.
Photo courtesy of the Sholem Family
A view of the lunch counter inside Grants Department Store.
This photo shows the Grant Department store following its closure.  By this time it has been
 replaced by the  Poison Apple.  Notice the Lincoln monument to
 the far left which today is located in West Side Park.

Grants was demolished following the devastating file that claimed the
buildings neighbors.
Photo courtesy of the City of Champaign

1 Main Street was paved following the demolition of Grants Department Store.
 It remained a city parking lot until 2004.
Photo courtesy of the City of Champaign

The new One Main Street was constructed in 2004 and encompassed the entire block
destroyed by the December 27, 1987 fire.  The building was constructed by One Main
Development and primary owner Cody Sokolski.  This building represented the first new
 construction in Downtown Champaign since the construction of BankIllinois
(Busey Bank) in the mid 1980s
Photo courtesy of TJ Blakeman

The completed One Main Street development as seen from the former
Metropolitan Building shortly before its fire in 2008.
Photo courtesy of TJ Blakeman

A view of One Main Street
Photo courtesy of TJ Blakeman