West Side Square - 1866

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

Here's a real one for your collection on Old Springfield - the West Side of the Square in bold outline as it looked in 1866! How very faint and far away that period seems through memory's mists of the past, and yet here we can imagine ourselves walking up Fifth street from a point perhaps a hundred feet north of Adams with historic old stores streching up toward Washington. At the extreme left we see a part of George W. Chatterton's jewelry store, with the clock in front. Next north of it we see the rather ornate facade (for those times) of N. H. Ridgely's banking house, and just beyond it, the well-known dry goods emporium of Kimber & Ragsdale, with steps at the alley leading to the upper floors. On he other side of the alley looms the establishment of Johnson & Bradford booksellers and stationers, and next to it the dry goods store of Charles A. Gehrmann, founded only a few years before but already firmly in popular favor. On up the line toward Washington, in order, were the Phillips & Bailhache drug store, Emanuel Hamberg's dry goods store, the "gents' furnishings" place of Greehle & Froelich, the hardware store of W. B. Miller (with the big padlock sign in front) and "ditto" of Warne & Stebbins on the corner - with S. H. Melvin's old-time drug store across Washington on the present Broadwell corner. For those days this array of three-story buildings was a credit to the downtown section of any city of the size of Springfield, witha population of, say, around 20,000. The big drawback was the messy custom of displaying merchandise near the store doors and leaving boxes and packing cases in front to litter up the perspective. The streets around the Square were paved with wooden planking which, although a mere makeshift, was a great improvement on the mud for which Springfield was "famous" in the pioneer period.

Submitted by: Jeanie Lowe.