This year we are celebrating our building’s 80th birthday! Take a look back with us as we revisit the history of our building along with other historic sites in the Springfield area.
Springfield Seed Co. / 319 N Main – 1936
Before it housed Butler, Rosenbury & Partners, it was originally Springfield Seed Co. Office and Wholesale Building. Built in 1936, it replaced the original wood frame warehouse. The location was very well suited for the company’s seed and floral business since it was adjacent to the railroad lines. By the 1930’s, the Jordan Creek Valley was the warehouse and industrial center of Springfield’s commercial interests. In 1956, Springfield Seed Co. moved out, and the building sat vacant until the 1970’s when the Universal Paint Company moved in. In 2000 that company went out of business.
BR&P renovated and moved our offices into the building in 2006. The project has been a model of sustainable design!
Gillioz Theatre – 1926
Built in 1926, it was the largest and grandest movie palace in the city of Springfield. Designed with a Spanish theme with Mediterranean, Italian, and Moroccan influences, the theater was built by the Gillioz Company for $300,000. On opening night, the main feature was the movie “Take it From Me.” Tickets were sold out immediately and the theater filled to capacity! Besides film, the Gillioz offered vaudeville and theater productions as well.
Sadly in the 1960’s the building began to founder, and closed its doors in the 1970’s. In 2006, BR&P assisted in the renovation and preservation of the Gillioz, now home to many concerts, events, and even movies!
Park Central Square – 1914
In 1835, John Polk Campbell donated 50 acres, including two acres for a public square in Greene County. For much of the late 19th and early 20th Century, the Square was a large open area used for horse/wagon parking and for public gatherings. It wasn’t until 1911 that the city built a roundabout (known as “the pie”) for the trolley system. Before it was remade in the early 70’s the Square was the site for several historical sites including the shootout between “Wild” Bill Hickok and Dave Tutt in 1865 and Route 66. It was then redesigned in 1972 by the noted landscape firm Halprin and Associates. Over its 35 year life, the power of Halprin and Associates’ design was diminished due to deferred maintenance.
BR&P was brought on to improve the Square and make it a catalyst for a more vital downtown. BR&P’s efforts changed from redesigning to restoring and re-invigorating Halprin and Associates’ square – a trip to the Halprin archives in Philadelphia was a significant part of the research – and then making design changes, only when necessary and consistent with that intent. Today the Square is the center of downtown activity and home to many different festivals and events throughout the year, including this weekends Birthplace of Route 66 Festival.
Heer’s Building – 1915
The Heer’s Department Store, built in 1915, was home to one of the premier department stores in the region from 1915 to 1940. The tower at the top of the seven story building contained an observatory where the public could use built-in binoculars to see far points in all directions. It was claimed that the building was situated so that it was the highest point between Denver and the Alleghenies. In the 1940’s, Heer’s was bought by Allied Stores of New York and received major renovations including air conditioning and escalators! It was very successful until the 1990’s when the company filed for bankruptcy, and by 1995, Heer’s had shut its doors. After passing through multiple hands, and being boarded up in 2011, the building re-opened in 2015 as a mixed use building with offices on the first floor and 80 luxury apartments. *Not a BR&P project
Franklin Springfield Motor Company – 1891
Sitting at 312-314 E. Olive, this building was originally constructed in 1891 and used as a mule livery and warehouse. In 1925, it was remodeled for use as an automobile salesroom, the first of its kind in downtown Springfield. The Springfield Motor Company sold Franklin automobiles such as the Franklin 10C Sedan and Franklin 11A Sport Runabout. As sales declined for luxury model cars and the Great Crash of the stock market occurred, the company closed in 1929. The building continued to be used for transportation uses- truck sales, repair shops, welding schools, and tire companies have all filled that space. Today, the building is being used as an office for Gig Salad.
Springfield Grocer / Yellow Bonnet Building – 1925
Built in 1925, the Yellow Bonnet Building was originally used as a mill. During the Great Depression, the building changed hands multiple times, and was converted into warehouse space. In the 1940’s, Springfield Grocer Company bought the building to use as a warehouse for their extensive lines of products including their private label Yellow Bonnet. The building was great for the company; it was large enough to provide storage, had easy access to the railroad, and provided a new spot for advertising. You can still see the Yellow Bonnet billboard today on top of the former mill tower. The company sold the building in the 1970’s, and in the early 90’s the warehouse became a nightclub. Today, the building houses offices for Sunrise Media Partners.
Historic Springfield City Hall – 1894
The construction of the United States Customhouse and Post Office was authorized in 1888 by an act. Under this act, $100,000 could be used for the construction of a federal building in Springfield. In 1894, the building officially opened and housed the post office, IRS, office of the Federal District Attorney and the Federal Court, among others. Since a renovation in 1938,little change has been made to the appearance. Over the years renovations have been made to update and modernize the building. BR&P worked on several renovations including replacing the roof and copper detailing that was matched to the original, replacing the building’s mechanical systems, as well as a replacement of the rotunda windows.
Landers Theatre – 1909
Built in 1909 for $100,000, The Landers Theatre has been in continuous use either as a theater or motion picture house since it opened. In 1920, a boiler explosion caused a fire to break out. It completely destroyed the stage, but an asbestos curtain and other fireproofing precautions kept the theater from being a total loss. After reopening in 1921, the Lander’s Stage featured concerts, vaudeville acts, and films. It was also home to Five Star Jubilee, a national NBC-TV show in 1959. Over the years, many restorations have taken place. Today it’s home to the Springfield Little Theater!
*Not a BR&P project
Finkbiner Building – 1925
Constructed in 1925 for the Finkbiner Transfer and Storage Company, this building sits at 509-513 W. Olive Street. The Finkbiner Company is the oldest moving company in the city, and the warehouse on Olive Street has the distinction of being used in its original purpose longer than any other early 20th century moving warehouse in the city. During the 1930’s the company hauled a lot of paper and flour, and transferred freight to and from the railroad.