Fowler Mansion

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Springfield Journal Register, date of paper which originally published the following is unknown.

(Photograph courtesy of Robert L. Ide)
Our picture of the Jess residence the other day stimulated a great deal of collateral interest in the old Fowler place which at an earlier period occupied that entire block between Cook and Lawrence, and Second and Third Streets. So here's the Fowler place - viewed from about the corner of Second and Lawrence, looking northeast to the mansion, which stood a little north of the center of the block, facing on Second Street - as it appeared in the late Sixties. The record shows that in 1850, John E. Roll bought five acres of ground which included this block, that part of the block north as far as the old Sommer home, and a part of the frontage of Capitol View Apartments and the Legion Home on the west side, down to Cook Street, also some frontage south of Cook on that side where Mr. Roll built another fine home. We have already given you the chain of the south half of the Fowler block on which the old Jess residence stands today. The north half Mr. Roll acquired in 1850, as we have said. On this half, just north of center in the block, he built the pretentious home shown above, in 1858. Four years later, he sold the property to Sophia S. Fowler, wife of Dr. Edwin S. Fowler, for $21,000. The Fowlers occupied this residence and the full block of grounds until sometime in the early Nineties, when it was gutted by fire. As will be noted, it was quite a show place, with many fine trees, elaborate landscaping, and with a number of white marble statues placed about the grounds - which Dr. Fowler, who was a government contractor in Civil War times, had brought to Springfield from Southern plantations. One of these statues appears in right foreground in the picture. After the mansion burned, the ruins were left standing for a number of years and the beautiful grounds were soon covered with weeds and underbrush. But there was a certain wild beauty about the place, and the pathways criss-crossing the property bore witness to the lure it had for people passing that way. Incidentally it was a favorite rendezvous for the kinds of that era and "cops and robbers" was played all over the place! About 1900, this block was subdivided under the name of "Lincoln Place," and a number of attractive residences were built there in subsequent years. (Acknowledgments to Sangamon County Abstract Co. for title information.)

Submitted by: Jeanie Lowe.