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Saturday, July 26, 2014

On the road again

Posted Monday, June 8, 2009, at 9:58 AM

(Photo)
This morning my travels take me once again to my old hometown of Springfield, Mo., where I'm attending the United Methodist Annual Conference and visiting my sister Kathy.

In a few days, I'll be headed up to Minnesota to meet a year-old grandchild I've never seen!

Since I've been so remiss in updating my blogs, my idea is to keep up with them through the use of my new Dell Mini laptop/notebook/whatever you call it. However, my new toy is toooooo sloooooooow -- even for someone who's used to dial up! Internet Explorer is taking 10-15 minutes to load up, and by that time I'm asleep. "Tootsie," as I've nicknamed my cute little computer, will have to go visit Dr. Todd Mayberry (Blue Chalk Software) for a diagnostic checkup, before I head north!

My first road topic is the old U.S. Customshouse and Post Office built in Springfield in 1891-1894 and used as a city hall from 1938 to 1992. I find that old building fascinating!

My sister has provided me with some background. As an associate city planner, she's had an office in City Hall since 1981. (Her office in the old building was in the "new" section, built in 1912... but now, all city government offices are next door in yet another old post office)

In case you're wondering, as I was, what style that is in the photo, it's called Richardsonian Romanesque, after the famous turn of the century architect Henry Hobson Richardson, whose main body of work is located in and around Chicago. The legislation for the construction was signed by President Grover Cleveland. The photo is of the southwest corner of the building, facing Chestnut Expressway.

The materials are limestone from Indiana, marble from Tennessee (for the fireplaces, entry floors, and bathrooms), and local hand-carved quartersawn oak for the elegant newel posts on the stairs. The foundation is made from the same ashlar limestone as Ashlar Hall in Memphis (see previous blog). There are even GARGOYLES at four corners!

When the building was constructed, Springfield was a city of about 20,000, having grown from 6,522 in 1880. According to the records, 5,000 residents of the city came to the open house in 1894. (Current pop. figures from City Hall - 167,255 in 80 sq. mile city limits.)

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 27, 1979. Good thing, too, as I understand that there was once a move to tear it down! Can you believe it?? Fortunately, that suggestion caused a big ruckus, and the city council decided to keep it. In fact, the city spent $900,000 to renovate and restore the building (including cleaning the limestone) in 2002.

My sister's information includes massive architectural information too extensive for me to use on this blog, but I will include that the turret is 97 feet tall and is capped with a copper finale. It also features one-over-one light curved glass windows, which are original. Kathy says that when you look through them, you can tell they're blown glass.

The other most dominant feature is a five-story campanile tower centered on the south facade. The arched windows of this tower are elongated to accentuate the overall height of the tower.

Currently, the third floor houses the Historical Museum of the Ozarks, and the Fire Department has the rest of the building.

This topic makes me wish I'd gone into Historic Preservation as a major, instead of (or maybe along with) English!

From southwest Missouri, this is your roving reporter Madeline, signing off on a GORGEOUS summer morning! Next stop - Minneapolis!


Comments
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I have a fear of being attacked by someone yielding cuticle nippers, Hey, it could happen.

I'd be on the safe side and put them in a suitcase--unless you called the airline to be sure. (You might never be able to replace them if they were siezed. teehee) I'm thankful for the extra safety measures, even though it is a pain to get aboard the plane anymore.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 3:14 PM

Question: Can you carry metal cuticle nippers on a plane, or are they considered a deadly terrorist weapon??

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Jun 8, 2009, at 6:56 PM

Where I live, there is a 3 story mansion from pre-civil war days. It has been turned into an antique store, and each of the rooms has been set up something like they were so many years ago. My biggest question the first time I visited it was WHY does a Florida house have so many fireplaces? There is one in almost every room. Then it hit me--it was probably built by a rich northerner. Anyone from Florida would have settled for one or two. It's fun to be able to wander around in it and imagine what the original owners' lives were like. Yep, being a historical preservationist would have been fun--and hard work! I can't stand to see old buildings demolished either.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Jun 8, 2009, at 12:29 PM

It's not surprising that there was a movement once upon a time to tear down the old city hall. City's, churches and schools are notorious as being the least sensitive to the historic nature of their buildings. The founder of Springfield is generally considered to be a man named John Polk Campbell - he drew up the plat of the original city of Springfield. Some years ago, the City of Springfield burned the house that was his last home in Springfield as practice for the fire department. A lot of people think that if George Washington didn't sleep there, it isn't historic - it's just an old building.

-- Posted by mokath52 on Mon, Jun 8, 2009, at 10:08 AM

People who have the mind set to destroy these old buildings should be taken into the public square and SHOT! There's more to a building than "efficient utilization of space"!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Jun 8, 2009, at 10:03 AM


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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net or by phone at 573-722-5322.
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