Sinclair Home

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

(Photograph courtesyof Mrs. E. L. Catron)
For years, this stately old structure on the southeast corner of Douglas Avenue and Governor street has attracted much interest from passers-by, as well it may, for it is one of the real landmarks of the West Side. Platted by Nicholas Strott in 1867, a year later the site was sold to Washington Crowder, a pioneer brick contractor here, who erected the pretentious dwelling shown above, along with several other fine homes here. After living there for about fifteen years, Mr. Crowder sold the property to Samuel Sinclair in 1883. A native of Virginia, Mr. Sinclair had brought his young bride to Illinois in 1835 to establish their home, traveling the river routes and taking up land grants in Morgan County near Jacksonville. For nearly a half century, he engaged in general agriculture and livestock raising, first in Morgan County and later in Cass County, near Ashland. In 1883, with his second wife and their two daughters, the Misses Emma Lou and Margaret, he moved to Springfield to occupy this fine residence until his death in February of 1888. Both of his daughters graduated from the Bettie Stuart Institute in the late Eighties. Mrs. Catron, his granddaughter, tells us that the house, largely of black walnut construction, had an unusual architectural plan. There were four floors, each of seven rooms. Originally the kitchen, pantries and storerooms were in the basement, the walls of which were built several feet above the ground, making a high foundation. A "dumb waiter" - an elevator worked by ropes and pulleys - connected the four floors. On the south side, there was a large conservatory for plants and flowers. Above this there was an open gallery that led from and connected several of the bedrooms. There was a fireplace in every room. In the rear was a large barn, housing the driving horses, carriages, etc. The house was then in what was known as "West Springfield", with cornfields between it and the city proper. One of the early streetcar lines, using horse-drawn cars, ran past the house on Governor Street, on out to Kraus' Park. Following Mr. Sinclair's death, the estate was partitioned and the residence passed into the hands of the Whelan family and later holders. A number of years ago the house was remodeled into apartments, which are now operated by Meredith C. Ward. Older residents will particularly enjoy this picture of the original home with its distinctive charm of the sedate Eighties period. (Special acknowledgements to the Sangamon County Abstract Company regarding the chain of title.)

Submitted by: Jeanie Lowe.