Front Cover Illustration: Springfield Marine and Fire Insurance Company on the East Side of the Public Square: Circa 1860’s, designed by St. Louis architect George I. Barnett.
Back Cover Illustration: The First Presbyterian Church built in 1843 at the southeast corner of Third and Washington Streets.
All proceeds from the sale of this pamphlet will benefit the Elijah Iles House Foundation.
The mission of the Elijah Iles House Foundation is to preserve, restore and endow the maintenance of the Elijah Iles House for the use and appreciation of the citizens of Springfield and its visitors.
From the 1820s until the Civil War, Greek Revival was a one-style-fits-all building design choice of rich and poor, in town and country, North and South, from the Atlantic Ocean to the new Midwest and around the Cape to California. There were regional variations, to be sure, and these help to make house-gazing a continuing pleasure in all these regions.
Greek Revival Architecture in Early Springfield, Illinois
Spring Creek Series.
Copyright 2007, Springfield, Illinois. All rights reserved.
First Printing, February, 2007
Table of Contents
Springfield Named State Capitol................................................... 10
Peleg C. Canedy Builds First Two-Story Brick Building............... 23
John F. Rague Designs Old State Capitol...................................... 24
Elijah Iles Builds American House............................................... 25
John Todd Stuart Residence on South Fourth Street..................... 27
Elijah Iles Builds House on South Sixth....................................... 28
Residence at Seventh and Enos.................................................... 30
Lawrason Levering House Built................................................... 30
Illinois State Bank Building Built.................................................. 31
Rev. Dresser Builds Greek Revival Cottage.................................. 33
Second Presbyterian Church Built................................................ 34
Davis Meredith Builds Greek Revival Farm Residence................. 35
Tinsley Building at Sixth and Adams Streets................................ 36
Woodcut of the Tinsley Building, South Side of the Public Square: June 4, 1850 36
First Methodist Church Annex..................................................... 38
John Gardner’s Greek Revival Farm House................................. 39
Samuel Jesse Stout Farm Residence............................................. 42
John F. Rague Advertises Real Estate For Sale............................. 42
First Presbyterian Church Built.................................................... 43
Sangamon County Court House Built........................................... 46
C. M. Smith Residence at Fifth and Jackson................................. 48
First Christian Church Builds New Church at Sixth and Jefferson Streets 51
Illinois State University Building.................................................. 54
Enterprise Building Built.............................................................. 55
State of Illinois Arsenal Built....................................................... 56
First Methodist (Episcopal) Church Constructed At Southeast Corner of Fifth and Monroe Streets 58
Portuguese Church at Eighth and Miller Northeast Corner............ 60
Island Grove Methodist Church................................................... 60
The May 11, 1855 Fire................................................................ 60
Preston Butler’s Photograph of the West Side of the Public Square Looking North: Circa 1859 61
Haerting’s Drawing of the North Side of the Public Square: Circa 1860 63
Edwards School Built................................................................... 64
Palmer School Built...................................................................... 64
Lincolns Remodel Home.............................................................. 65
Peter Cartwright Methodist Church............................................... 65
Trapp School Built....................................................................... 66
North Side of Square.................................................................... 66
Preston Butler’s Photograph of the North Side of the Public Square Looking East: Circa 1859 66
West Side of the Public Square..................................................... 70
Haerting’s Drawing of the West Side of the Public Square: Circa 1860 71
Decline of Greek Revival Style..................................................... 71
Ursaline Academy........................................................................ 72
Reisch Brewery............................................................................ 75
Conventional descriptions of Lincoln's Springfield are most often negative. We have all read of the dirty and dusty unpaved streets, the free roaming animals, and the small, nondescript residential cottages. But beyond these conventional portrayals, Springfield was a magnificent little town at the time Abraham Lincoln walked its streets. As the proud new capitol of a growing and prospering state, it embraced a new American style of architecture that emerged and flourished between 1820 and 1860. The style imitated classical Greek architecture and became known as Greek Revival. The architecture expressed a proud and optimistic America and Springfield welcomed the style in its residences, churches and commercial and governmental buildings.
The first appearance of the Greek Revival style in Springfield occurred in 1837. In that year, Springfield resident, John Francis Rague, won the contest for the architectural design of Illinois’ new State House—what we now know as the Old State Capitol. Rague was born in New Jersey in 1798 and moved with his family to New York City when he was young. He worked as a draftsman in the New York office of Minard Lafever, a builder and architect who was one of the fathers of the Greek Revival movement in America. Rague married and in 1831 moved to Springfield where he operated a bakery. In Springfield, Rague was also an organizer of the Second Presbyterian Church, the leader of the Second Presbyterian Church choir, a vice-president of the Illinois State Musical Association, a Springfield Town Trustee, a director of the Illinois Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the first President of the Springfield Mechanics Union, a trustee of Springfield Academy, and the Town Market Master.
What an extraordinary coincidence that Rague moved to Springfield from New York in 1831 and that in 1837 Springfield was selected as Illinois’ new capitol city. And what a further coincidence that Rague’s Greek Revival design was chosen for Illinois’ new State House, a building that became central in the Springfield life of Abraham Lincoln.
Rague’s Greek Revival design of the State House ushered in a period, roughly from 1837 to 1860, during which Greek Revival architecture thrived in Springfield. There are many excellent examples: the State House (1837)(extant), the American House (1837), the Elijah Iles House (circa 1837)(extant), the Tinsley Block (1837)(partially extant), the Illinois State Bank (1839), the Second Presbyterian Church (1839), the Davis Meredith Farmhouse (1839)(extant), the First Presbyterian Church (1843), the Sangamon County Court House (1845), the Third Presbyterian Church (1851), the Illinois State Arsenal (1855), the Methodist Episcopal Church (1855), the John Gardner Farmhouse (18__)(extant) and the Lincoln Home (originally built as one story cottage in 1839)(extant).
Abraham Lincoln spent much of his Springfield life in these Greek Revival structures. His house at Eighth and Jackson was a Greek Revival cottage. His wife’s church, First Presbyterian, was a magnificent example of Greek Revival liturgical architecture. If one walked around the Public Square in 1845, the predominant structures would have been Greek Revival in design. The State House, where Lincoln spent much of his professional and political life, has been termed one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture west of the Allegany’s. The east side of the Public Square was graced with two magnificent Greek Revival public buildings—the State Bank of Illinois and the Sangamon County Court House. At the southeast corner of the Square, one would find the American House and the Tinsley Block, where Lincoln and Herndon had their law office. Some of the homes of Lincoln’s friends, such as the residence of Robert Irwin, now known as the Iles House, where he spent many leisure hours, were of the Greek Revival style. Many of the Sangamon County farm houses that he visited or passed on horseback were also of a simple Greek Revival style.
Here then is a glimpse into Lincoln’s Springfield—Greek Revival Architecture on the Prairie.
Richard E. Hart
November 1, 2009
John Francis Rague
The origins of Greek Revival architecture in Springfield may be traced to two men—Minard Lafever and John Francis Rague. Lafever, born on August 10, 1798 in Morristown, New Jersey, was one of the fathers of Greek Revival architecture in America. Seven months after Lafever’s birth, Rague was born in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Here is the story of the two men and their relationship, culminating in Rague’s 1837 magnificent Greek Revival design for the Illinois State House, one of the finest Greek Revival structures in America and the first of the Greek Revival design in Springfield.
John Francis Rague’s father, Dr. John Rague, came from France to the American Colonies as the personal physician of General La Fayette during the Revolutionary War. He married Hannah Bonnel in 1781 and remained in America after the Revolution. In 1804, Dr. Rague and his family, including 5 year-old John, moved to New York City where John began attending school in 1806 at age 7. Dr. Rague died of a war wound when John was a child.
On April 16, 1820, 21 year-old John Francis Rague married Eliza M. Van Dyke and a year later John was working in New York City. Their marriage, characterized as “tempestuous,” ended in divorce in Springfield in 1856.
In 1828, 29 year-old Minard Lafever moved from Newark, New Jersey to New York City where he worked as an architectural draftsman and carpenter for John Haviland, Martin Euclid Thompson, and Ithiel Town and frequently associated with architects James H. Dakin, Alexander Jackson Davis, and James Gallier. In 1828, John F. Rague was working in Minard Lafever’s New York office, studying architecture and copying drawings and plans.
Minard Lafever … belonged to a different world from that frequented by Town and Davis, but his influence also was deep and wide. Trained as a carpenter in the Finger Lakes region of New York, to which his family had moved in his early childhood from his birthplace near Morristown, he was entirely self-taught architecturally. He preserved all his life something of the common-sense practicality of his early training, and during at least the early part of his practice in New York (where he arrived in 1828) he worked as a draftsman for builders. It was hard and not particularly rewarding work…and apparently it prevented Lafever from emerging as a full-fledged professional architect until the forties. Davis never mentions him, yet undoubtedly his designs and his books exerted a tremendous influence in the New York of that time. It is by his first three books that his Greek Revival work must be judged: The Young Builder’s General Instructor (1829), The Modern Builders’ Guide (1833), and The Beauties of Modern Architecture (1835). His artistic progress from the crudity of the first to the polished restraint of the last is amazing in so brief a period; it shows Lafever to have been not only an omnivorous reader but a designer of unusual and continually growing aesthetic sensitiveness. All the books are simple and unassuming. All bear witness to their author’s carpenter training and his eagerness to help those who like himself entered architecture through the building trades. Yet all the books show a driving, imaginative, creative force that expresses itself with clear and lovely restraint. The second and third contain probably the most exquisite and the least archaeological of all American Greek Revival detail—personal, inventive, restrained. As a pure creator of beautiful form—the pure artist in architecture—Lafever was at his time unrivaled.
In 1829, Minard Lafever published The Young Builder’s General Instructor.
Minard Lafever (in his “Young Builder’s General Instructor,” published in Newark in 1829 and one of the most of the many builder’s guides that popularized ornament and construction details for Greek Revival architecture) extolled a temple in Athens - known to him only through books - for the “elegant base of the columns,” the “grand” proportions of the entablature, the “spacious surface of the frieze,” and the “strength” of its appearance.
The 1829-30 Manhattan New York City Directory lists Minard Lafever as a carpenter living at 24 Watts. In succeeding directories, he listed himself as an architect. The 1829-30 Manhattan City Directory lists John F. Rague as a mason living at 21 Stanton. In the early 1830s, this was a neighborhood of red brick row houses stretching north of Soho between Second Avenue and Washington Square. This district was New York’s prime residential area from the 1830s through the Civil War. James Gallier described the architectural world of New York in the early 1830s:
On my arrival in New York on the 14th of April, 1832, I considered a large city as the most likely place to expect employment in my profession, but I found that the majority of people could with difficulty be made to understand what was meant by a professional architect; the builders, that is, the carpenters and bricklayers, all called themselves architects, and were at that time the persons to whom owners of property applied when they required plans for building; the builder hired some poor draftsman, of whom there were some half a dozen in New York at that time, to make the plans, paying him a mere trifle for his services. The drawings so made were, it is true, but of little value, and some proprietors built without having any regular plan. When they wanted a house built, they looked about for one already finished, which they thought suitable for their purpose; and then bargained with
In early 1831, 32 year-old John F. Rague was still living in New York where he continued to work in the office of Minard Lafever. By March of 1831, Rague and his wife, Eliza, had moved from New York City to Springfield, where the first evidence of their presence is their joining the First Presbyterian Church in March 1831.
In spite of his many talents, John F. Rague had a serious defect in his personality: he chased women and sometimes caught them! It mattered little to him that he definitely was not single. His wife testified that he began to stray during the second year of their marriage. Probably to save face, the couple fled from New York City and settled down in Springfield late in the fall of 1831.
He came here from New York in 1831 and during his stay of ten years engaged in such a variety of unrelated activities that his record is somewhat fabulous. In addition to being a baker he bought and sold real estate, and served as president of the Mechanics Union, an organization that operated a school, and which later acquired our first church building after the church outgrew it.
Without a demand for his building skills, Rague eventually opened a bakery and accepted mundane town-government positions in order to support himself and his family.
On July 26, 1832, John F. Rague advertised in the Sangamo Journal that he “continues the Bakery business” in a new brick building “a few doors west of Garland and Edmondson’s store.” He stated that he was a wholesaler as well as a retailer.
From 1833 to 1834, Rague served as Springfield’s market master. “In 1830 … soon after it [a new Court House in the center of the Public Square] was finished a brick market house was built on the northwest corner of the square.”
In 1833, Rague submitted a bid proposal for the construction of a new Sangamon County Jail. His bid of $3,200 was not the low bid and he did not receive the contract. The bid, however, is evidence that Rague was working as a Springfield contractor/builder during the early 1830s. His bid reads as follows:
Springfield [Illegible date], 1833
I will furnish all materials and do all the work of the contemplated Jail According to the plan and specification for the sum of Three Thousand Two Hundred Dollars ($3200).
Yours [illegible word]
John F. Rague
John Rague’s Bid Proposal For Construction of the Sangamon County Jail-1833
On August 29, 1833, John F. Rague advertised his bakery goods in the Sangamo Journal. He stated that he carried pilot bread, a very hard unsalted biscuit or bread that in earlier times was a ship’s staple. He also advertised loaf bread, rusk, crackers and cakes of various kinds. He also sold mead and beer. His place of business was a new brick house located near the public square and a few doors west of the Journal Printing Office.
John F. Rague Advertises Bakery in Sangamo Journal
In 1833, Minard Lafever published The Modern Builder’s Guide, one of the most influential books in the history of American architecture. The book was responsible for the rapid dissemination of Greek Revival architecture in the United States and carried the first temple-formed houses. Local carpenters as far south as Kentucky and as far west as Wisconsin used the book as a “builder’s guide” to construct Grecian temple-type houses and public buildings.
The heart of The Modern Builder’s Guide is the collection of plates showing elevations and full plans for churches and “country residences,” details of such structural elements as groin arches, roofing, staircases and window construction. Most important are the examples of Grecian-style ornament for use on fireplace mantels and front doors, as parlor ornamentation, etc.: rosettes, anthemion bands, consoles, anta capitals, scrolled anthemia and acanthus design. There is also detailed information on practical geometry, construction techniques of carpentry, masonry, plastering, etc.
In 1835, John F. and Eliza M. Rague were two of the 28 persons who withdrew their membership in the First Presbyterian Church and organized the Second Presbyterian Church, Springfield’s abolitionist church.
The 1835 New York Register, and City Directory lists Minard Lafever as an architect. In that same year, Lafever published The Beauties of Modern Architecture.
On October 6, 1835, John F. Rague was living on the south side of Washington Street, between Fourth and Fifth Streets. On that date he purchased 7 ½ feet of the lot adjoining to the east from John G. and Margaretta M. Bergen for $1,000. He also mortgaged his property to Erastus Wright to secure a $500 loan.
On February 5, 1836, John F. Rague purchased 400 acres of farmland for $1.25 an acre for a total of $500. The land was located in Section 27 of ______ Township. On November 11, 1836, John F. Rague purchased 80 acres of farmland in Section 13 of _________ Township. He paid $1.25 per acre or $100 for the 80 acres.
In the spring of 1836, John F. Rague was elected a Town Trustee of Springfield. He resigned the position in the fall of the same year when he went back East to work in Minard Lafever’s New York office.
Rague left the growing Midwestern community of Springfield in 1836 to return to New York City for an extended visit. Perhaps he was summoned there by Lafever himself, who by that time was well recognized for his designing talents, having completed two additional builder’s guides. The great fire that destroyed much of lower Manhattan in 1835 resulted in a flood of new commissions for most New York architects and builders, including Lafever, so that there was an acute shortage of trained personnel. Even if Lafever had not contacted him personally, Rague would have known of the situation in New York through newspaper accounts or personal correspondence. However, another factor, closer to home, seems a more probable motivation. Rague would have known of the plans to establish the state capitol in Springfield. Seeing the design of this structure as a potential commission, Rague may have seized upon the idea of a New York sojourn, viewing it as a refresher course tailored to fit his own ambitions. Knowing that his local prestige would be increased by the trip, even to the point of enabling him to secure the important capitol commission, would have been a powerful added incentive to his decision to go East. Ultimately, his success in winning the open competition against such professionals as A. J. Davis (1803-1892) and Ithiel Town (1794-1844) in 1837 allowed Rague to advance his professional status from carpenter-builder to architect, a change that might not have been possible had he remained at home in Springfield.
On February 28, 1837, the Illinois State legislature chose Springfield as the capital of Illinois and authorized the Sangamon County Commissioners Court “to convey to the Governor of the state of Illinois…that piece…of ground …known as the “public square,” containing two and half acres ..upon which… shall be erected a State House…for the State of Illinois.”
By March 27, 1837, Rague had returned to Springfield and he published a notice in the Journal captioned in bold letters “ARCHITECTURAL DRAWINGS.” He introduced himself by stating the he had just returned from New York. He stated that he had ten years of experience as a builder in “the city,” and now offered his services to the citizens of this country. The “city” is undoubtedly New York City where he worked from at least 1828 to the fall of 1831, prior to moving to Springfield, and from the fall of 1836 to the spring of 1837.
John F. Rague’s Advertisement For Architectural Drawing
Rague now offered his services to Springfield stating that he would “execute plans and elevations for buildings in any of the orders of architecture—write specifications, receive estimates, (and superintend any work of sufficient importance to require it) and construct foundations in such a manner that the buildings with neither settle or crack.”
He stated that he was prepared to execute rough castings in imitation of granite or any other stone and would do stucco work with “enriched cornices, centre pieces, etc.” He stated that wood cravings for buildings had been to a great degree replaced in Eastern Cities. He would furnish egg and dart moldings, stair brackets, etc. at less than half the cost of wood carving.
In mid April, Abraham Lincoln moved from New Salem to Springfield. In that same month, the Mechanics Institute was established in Springfield under the presidency of John F. Rague. It had a short and uneventful career and was succeeded by the Mechanics Union in 1839.
On March 22, 1838, 101 citizens of Springfield, including John F. Rague and Abraham Lincoln, signed a note for $16,666.67 to the State Bank to enable the town to pay the second installment of a pledge made in February 1837 to obtain the capital.
On January 31, 1839, John Eddy Roll married Harriet Van Dyke, who was born on January 29, 1815, in New York City. Harriet was the sister of Elizabeth Rague, the wife of John F. Rague. John Eddy Roll was born on June 9, 1814, at Green Village, New Jersey, and moved to Sangamon County in the early 1830s. In the spring of 1831, John Roll met Abraham Lincoln for the first time when at Sangamo Town he helped Lincoln build the flat boat that later became lodged on the Rutledge Dam at New Salem, Illinois. Roll made all the wooden pins used in constructing the boat. After Lincoln left Sangamo Town, Roll left as well and made his home at Springfield. He was a plasterer.
The 1839-40 Manhattan, New York City New York Directory lists Minard Lafever as an architect with offices as 9 Beckman and a residential address of 4 Allan.
On February 23, 1839, The Illinois Mutual Fire Insurance Company was incorporated with John Francis Rague as one of the directors.
On March 1, 1839, the Springfield Academy was organized and John F. Rague, together with Washington Iles, F. Webster, Jr., S. T. Logan, N. H. Ridgley, Robert Allen and Charles R. Matheny, was a member of the Board of Trustees.
For fifteen years (1839-1854) this institution, together with the Springfield Female Seminary … and the Mechanic’s Institute, bore the brunt of the educational burden, although there were always a number of smaller schools.
On December 17, 1839, a group of Springfield mechanics petitioned the Illinois legislature to pass an act incorporating the Springfield Mechanic’s Union. Lincoln presented the petition in the legislature.
John F. Rague, former baker but at that time architect of the Statehouse, was active in the [Springfield Mechanic’s] Union until called away to erect the capitol of Iowa Territory.
Membership in the Union was limited to mechanics of good moral character, free from all bodily infirmities. The first board of directors included: William D. Herndon, brick mason; J. Van Hoff, coach trimmer; John Armstrong, carpenter; John Connelly, cordwainer; E. R. Wiley, tailor; and John F. Rague and J. P. Lankford.
Members in good standing for six months could, during illness, draw $3.00 a week sick benefit, “until such disability shall terminate in health or death: Provided, that such disability has not arisen from drunkenness, horse racing, voluntary fighting, or any other vicious, improper or immoral act.”
The Union, upon the death of a member, offered $20 toward defraying funeral expenses, and, should they need it, the widow and orphans were entitled to not less than $20, nor more than $50, from the widows’ fund. Loans up to $50 at 12 per cent interest were made at the discretion of the board of directors. The Union collected almost $1,000 in dues and fines during its seven and a half years of activity. The smallness of its funds was a constant handicap in the establishment of a school for the children of the mechanics. In 1840 school plans were postponed because of the “peculiar pressure of the times.” A year later, a subscription paper which was passed among the members and the business men of the city failed to raise $450 needed to build a frame schoolhouse. In May, 1842, the First Presbyterian Church laid the cornerstone of a new church at the southeast corner of Third and Washington streets. The church, anxious to dispose of its old building, located just south of the new structure, offered to sell it to the Union for $500. The deal was made, the Union paying $212 in State Bank paper-worth but 75 per cent of its face value-and giving a note for the balance.
Immediately popular, the school’s enrollment rose to 130. Until an addition to the build¬ing could be erected in the fall of 1844, the girls were taught in the basement of the new Presbyterian Church.
The Union had an active and worth-while existence until the spring of 1847, when a shortage of funds made it impossible to pay off the mortgage on the building. The sheriff sold the property to James C. Sutton for the debt and interest amounting to $235.39. 11. The organization continued for another year after the sale and then ceased to exist.
The 1840 United States census shows John F. Rague living in Springfield, Illinois. In late March of that year, Rague traveled to St. Louis to purchase 10,000 feet of pine for the new Illinois State House.
Note. Mr. Rague the Architect left for the same point [St. Louis] on 31st March for the purchase of 10,000 feet pine, no action of the Board in relation thereto on record.
April 1st, 1840 Arch. Job.
In the spring of 1840, Rague traveled to New York City to hire skilled stonecutters and to order carved wooden capitals and hardware for the interior of the Illinois State House. It was reported that while in New York, Rague advertised in the New York Sun for twenty stone cutters for the capitol building at $2.50 per day. Two came as a result.
The bill of carving for the embellishment of the interior of the building including the dome, cost in the city of New York $2529.59. The carving having been shipped with other materials, it is impossible to give the exact cost of freight and charges; but it cannot have exceeded the sum of $250.00, which would make the net cost of the carved work amount to the sum of $2779.59. The contract for the carving and hardware was made by our Architect, Mr. Rague, by direction of the Board, and he was allowed the sum of $150.00 for expenses to and from New York; which is all that has been paid in the shape of commissions or for agents in their purchase.
In 1840, John F. Rague designed Iowa’s first state capitol building at Iowa City. Construction of the
Greek Revival style building began with the laying of the cornerstone on July 4, 1840. Nine days later, Rague resigned.
John F. Rague’s Signature, 1840
William Henry Harrison died on April 4, 1841, and Springfield honored him with a memorial service at the Second Presbyterian Church where John F. Rague directed the choir.
In 1841, John F. Rague served as an agent for the Illinois Mutual Fire Insurance Company.
On July 20, 1841, Rague bought the north 1/2 of lots 5 and 6 Block 21 OTP from Erastus Wright for $600. Rague gave Wright a note for part of the purchase price. On November 22, 1845, James C. Conkling received a master in chancery deed for the property due to a foreclosure suit filed by Wright against Rague and some other Springfield businessmen.
On August 14, 1841, Rague was elected a Vice President of the Illinois State Musical Society, organized to promote the cause of music in churches, academies and common schools.
John F. Rague Elected Vice President of Illinois State Musical Society
In August 1841, Rague was cited to appear before the Church Council for “Sabbath breaking, uttering falsehood, and ‘trifling with the sessions.’ Although the last charge was dropped, Rague never attended the Council to defend himself and he was consequently “removed” from the Second Presbyterian Church on August 24, 1842.
In 1841, Rague was involved in the dispute over the financing of the Illinois State House that ultimately led to his removal from Springfield. Although he was never proved dishonest, repercussions could have been unsettling enough to cause his lashing out as someone who might have criticized his actions or honesty.
On July 15, 1842, John F. Rague advertised in the Journal “Houses, Lands, Farms and Lots—for sale.” One of the houses is a “Grecian Cottage” opposite the Second Presbyterian Church on the east side of Fourth, between Adams and Monroe Streets.
That well built and beautiful Grecian Cottage opposite the 2nd Presbyterian Church, 46 feet square, containing six rooms, a good cellar, garret room, closet, pantries, well-room, inner portico, and portico extending across the entire front and standing on a lot 78 ½ by 160 feet in a beautiful part of the city. A credit of one or two years will be given for one-quarter or one-half of the purchase money if desired.
This little ad tells us that the “Cottage” was 46 feet square, the same exterior dimensions as the Elijah Iles house. (See page __.) The use of the word “Grecian” by Rague confirms that the term Greek Revival or variants thereof had become a part of the public vocabulary of Springfield to the extent that it would be used in a newspaper advertisement to sell a “Grecian Cottage.”
The ad also raises questions. Was this Rague’s personal residence? And if so, did he design and construct the Grecian Cottage? When did he purchase the lot? The Lincolns moved from the Globe Tavern to the same block on South Fourth Street in the fall of 1843 and lived there until the middle of 1844. Did they move to this Cottage or were they neighbors? Why was Rague selling all of this real estate? What happened between July 1842 and October 1843?
Eliza Rague was separated from the Second Presbyterian Church by letter in October 1843.
James C. Conkling received a master in chancery deed for the Rague property on Washington Street on November 22, 1845, due to a foreclosure suit filed by Wright against Rague and some other Springfield businessmen.
The 1850 United States census shows fifty year-old John F. Rague living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In 1853, Eliza Rague left her husband and returned with their daughter to Springfield.
In 1854 at age 55, John F. Rague moved from Milwaukee to Dubuque, Iowa at the request of Stephen Hempstead, former Governor of Iowa. In that year, Rague designed a Greek Revival residence at 834 North Johnson Street–The Downey-Pickering-Glasgow House.
Minard Lafever died on September 26, 1854 at age 56.
In 1856, Elizabeth Rague filed for divorce from John on the grounds of John’s drunkenness and adultery with “divers women.” She alleged that her husband’s adultery was “publicly notorious” and his “licentiousness” had become so established that there was “no reasonable hope of his reformation.” “For the last three years John has become more and more addicted to the use of intoxicating liquors, frequently returning to his home drunk.” In the file are notes written by one of Rague’s mistresses to him. (apparently Rague met her on Sundays, after church) They were torn up but someone (Mrs. Rague?) had carefully re-assembled and pasted them together to present as evidence. Elizabeth Rague was granted the divorce.
On September 22, 1858, Elizabeth Rague married Levi H. St. Clair in Sangamon County. Levi died in April, 1866, near Rochester, Illinois.
In 1862, John Rague began to lose his eye sight, and he eventually became blind. When the first wife, Elizabeth, heard of his blindness, she came to Dubuque where she and John’s second wife worked together to help Rague until he died in 1887. He was buried in Linwood Cemetery, Dubuque, Iowa.
It seems improbable that the State House was Rague’s sole Springfield work. I have often wondered what other Springfield buildings he may have designed or influenced others to design. Proof meeting the test of legal evidence that Rague designed other Springfield buildings may never be found, but some reasonable speculations and deductions can be suggested from the known facts. Therefore, I have speculated based on what I have found as circumstantial evidence. I welcome others to refute or concur with my speculations.
Illinois State House
On February 28, 1837, the Illinois State legislature chose Springfield as the capital of Illinois and authorized the Sangamon County Commissioners Court “to convey to the Governor of the state of Illinois…that piece…of ground …known as the “public square,” containing two and half acres ..upon which… shall be erected a State House…for the State of Illinois.”
On April 8, 1837, the Sangamo Journal carried an advertisement “to Architects,” announcing that a premium, of three hundred dollars would be paid for the “best plans and estimates of a Building for a State House.” Newspapers in Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania were asked to copy the advertisement. The prize was won by Springfield’s John F. Rague. He was appointed the supervising architect of the project with a salary of a thousand dollars per year. Rague’s brother-in-law, John Roll, was one of the contractors on the State House The building he designed was his most significant building project in Springfield.
The Illinois State House Draped in Mourning, May 1865,
Taken From the Southwest Corner of Fifth and Adams Looking to the Northeast
State Bank Building to Right of State House
By the end of May, 1837, the Sangamon Court House on the Public Square had been torn down to make room for the new State House. On the Fourth of July, the corner stone was laid with elaborate ceremonies. A procession marched to the public square for the dedication ceremony. The procession was led by members of the Mechanics’ Institute, of which Rague was president.
Rague would have known of the plans to establish the state capitol in Springfield. Seeing the design of this structure as a potential commission, Rague may have seized upon the idea of a New York sojourn, viewing it as a refresher course tailored to fit his own ambitions. Knowing that his local prestige would be increased by the trip, even to the point of enabling him to secure the important capitol commission, would have been a powerful added incentive to his decision to go East. Ultimately, his success in winning the open competition against such professionals as A. J. Davis (1803-1892) and Ithiel Town (1794-1844) in 1837 allowed Rague to advance his professional status from carpenter-builder to architect, a change that might not have been possible had he remained at home in Springfield.
Work on the State House continued throughout 1838 and 1839. Early in 1840 it was ready for partial occupancy, but years were to elapse before it presented a finished appearance. In 1843, for instance, one of the newspapers commented on the fact that the roof leaked, and that much of the stone intended for the front columns was lying about the yard, where it was in daily danger of injury. Not until 1853 was the building completely finished.
Elijah Iles Builds American House
In 1837, Elijah Iles constructed a three-story brick hotel at the southeast corner of Sixth and Adams Streets.
The American House at the Southeast Corner of the Public Square
Elijah Iles Builds Greek Revival House
In about 1837, Elijah Iles built a grand Greek Revival house at the southeast corner of what is now Sixth and Cook Streets. T Most Springfield residential examples of the period have vanished, but the Iles House remains as the best example of very early Greek Revival residential architecture that flourished in early Springfield and is one of Illinois’ earliest and finest examples of Greek Revival architecture. The house may have been architecturally designed by John Francis Rague, the architect for the Illinois State House. The Greek Revival design is exhibited in the house’s timber-frame construction with a raised cottage form and its low roofing with gable end pediments, banded trim, and full galley porch supported by pillars with Doric capitals. The overall dimensions of the house are 46’-6” x 44’-0”. The front entryway is recessed, surrounded by pilasters, small side and transom lights (windows) and a massive, two panel, walnut door. The historic main floor of the house has three of its four original fireplaces and walnut mantles. The interior doors, window moldings and central hall stair railing and most of the exterior walnut clapboarding and woodwork are original.
There is a monumental wooden stairs from the sidewalk grade to the front porch that is a 10 foot deep gallery that runs the full width of the front (West) elevation. The roof of the porch is continuous with the main roof of the house, and not a separate structure. The porch frieze is flat, two-piece painted wood bands of 8-inch upper and 4-inch beams painted.
There are six porch columns symmetrically spaced across the front. Each painted column is a 14 inches square shape, with a short 3-1/2 inch base trim and a wood cove capital. The porch columns were framed around large hand-hewn posts that form one end of the structural bent.
Elijah Iles House: Built Circa 1837
There is a system of 2 inch x 178-inch balusters at 5 inches on center with a wooden top oval rail and 3-1/2 inch bottom rail between the columns. The rail height is 33 inches. Much of the existing porch handrail and posts are constructed of walnut.
The west (front) elevation has four 6’-0” x 4’-6” wood double-hung windows with six over six panes, symmetrically set on each side of the center-set entry door. Each window has a pair of wood slatted shutters painted green and attached to the wood lap siding.
There are 1 x 8 pilasters at each corner of the Main Floor elevations, with crown moulds and bases that match the profile and size of the front porch columns.
The main entrance door is of monumental scale. It is one of the house’s more striking features, a large two-vertical panel walnut door, with glass side lites with 4 panes in each 4’-6” vertical opening. The bases of the sidelights have inset rectangular panels. Above the door, there is a glazed transom of 6-approximately 1’x 1’ lites. The interior trim is unique in that there is a pediment above the door itself, and a larger-frieze and pediment above the glass transom. All interior material is oiled and stained walnut.
The Upper Level east (rear) elevation has a dormer extension that brings light and ventilation to an upper stair landing. The dormer is approximately 8’-0” wide and 4’-6” in height, with a 4/12 roof pitch. The dormer contains two wood double-hung windows facing east, with 6 over 6 panes.
The Upper Level is a triangular elevation within the gable of the roof (slope runs E/W). A frieze board along the rake of the roof is an 8” painted flat fascia. There are 2 windows symmetrically balanced off the center of the upper gable face, each 2’-6” x 5’-0” wood double hung units with 6 over 6 panes.
There are 2 wood double hung windows with 6 over 6 divided lite sashes. The windows are 3’-6” x 5’-6” each. At the center of the elevation, between the two windows, is a fixed, single pane wood casement window. The window is 1’-6” x 4’-0” horizontally placed.
The Lower Level has five wood double hung windows, each 3”-0” x 3’-6” with 8 over 8 divided lites on each. Each Lower Level window has slightly arched double rowlock brick heads at each, with a solid wood panel in the arched reveal above the top sash.
On the south side, the Main Level has two large, almost floor to ceiling windows. These are slightly arch-topped double hung units, 2’-6” x 9’-6” in size. The upper sash is a 2 over 2 divided lite unit, only 3’-0” in height, roughly one-third the size of the lower sash, which is 2 over 2 over 2, divided lites.
The roof is a gable-end wood rafter roof on a 5/12 pitch. The cornice eaves are a 12-inch frieze board at perimeter. There is no decorative cornice molding.
The house has three brick masonry chimneys that are exposed above the roofline. Two chimneys, visible on the east roof extended 10’-0” above the base of each. The chimneys extend from the existing fireplaces on the Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest rooms on the Main Level.
Lawrason Levering House
“One of the most imposing early examples of Greek-Revival domestic architecture in Springfield was the Lawrason Levering House, which was built in 1838 on the west side of Second Street, north of Edwards, on the site of the present-day Capitol Complex.
Lawrason Levering House on South Second Street
…the Levering mansion was a two-story, side-gabled, brick I-House with a prominent two-story Classical portico supported by Corinthian columns. A second-floor balcony was sheltered within the portico. There was a wide entablature present, and this was continued along the ends of the house in order to form a pediment on each of the gables. The Levering House was demolished in the early twentieth century in order to allow the construction of the Centennial (now Howlett) Building.”
The land where the Lawson Levering house was situated was sold to Levering by Ninian W. Edwards in 1837. Levering was a partner of William Grimsley on the Public Square. Mr. Levering built the original dwelling, a story –and-a-half in 1838 and sold the property to Thomas Yeatman of St. Louis in 1847 for $4,000. Mr. Yeatman sold it to William Pope in 1849. John E. Owsley, a wealthy retired land-owner, bought it in 1856 and enlarged it as shown above, the columns and portico being patterned after his old home in Kentucky.
Illinois State Bank Building
In 1839, a majestic Greek Revival bank building was constructed in the middle of the East Side of the Public Square for use by the Illinois State Bank. It was a perfect complement to the newly constructed State House, its neighbor across Sixth Street. It was called “the most chaste, beautiful and substantial building west of the Allegheny Mountains.”
The Illinois State Bank is a rectangular-massed stone Greek Revival building, one story high and six bays deep. The square corner pilasters provide a bold frame for each facade. The pediment is closed by a full entablature with a raking cornice of similar detail rising to the center ridge.
Illinois State Bank on the East Side of the Public Square
Plate 52 From Minard Lafever’s
The Young Builder’s General Instructor, 1829
A double door centered on the front facade is the single commanding element to this elevation. Eight stone steps lead up to the entry door, which is capped with a full entablature and flanked by Doric pilasters similar to those on the building corners. Each entry door has six horizontal wood panels. There are two identical fixed vertical panels over each door creating a heightened appearance to the entrance and facade.
The symmetrical sides, (north and south) have six bays, each containing windows. The windows are large and give the appearance of there being more window than wall.
Rev. Charles Dresser’s Greek Revival Cottage
In 1839, Rev. Charles Dresser built a Greek Revival cottage at the northeast corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets. The house was built by carpenters John and Page Eaton, newly arrived in Springfield from New Hampshire. In 1844, Dresser sold the house to Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln lived here with his family in this form until 1858, when the cottage was enlarged by adding a full second floor.
Rev. Charles Dresser’s Home Built in 1839
The house is a one and half story frame rectangle with four bays or windows on the eve front with a setback center doorway with sidelights and transom light. The corner boards and entablature were most likely present on the original house as is shown on the drawing and the model.
The windows are double hung six over six with classical surrounds. There are two chimneys, one at each peak of the gable ends. The gable ends have two bays on the first floor and in the pediment there are two small windows allowing light and air to the half story sleeping area.
This style of one and half story modest Greek Revival house was a prevalent style in Lincoln’s Springfield.
John Gardner’s Greek Revival Farm House
The John Gardner house is perhaps the finest Greek Revival farm house in Sangamon County. It is located in Gardner Township at 7369 Route 125, ¼ of a mile west of the intersection with Route 97. It retains many of its Greek Revival features, although it has been sided. The house is remarkably similar to the home of Abraham Lincoln before the second story was raised.
John Gardner House, Section 17, Gardner Township,
Sangamon County, Illinois
The John Gardner house is a one and half story rectangle with four bays or windows on the eve front with a center doorway with sidelights and transom light. The windows are double hung six over six with a classic surround. A wide entablature runs along all four sides. The corner boards or pilasters frame the facades. The porch is modest and is Greek Revival in style with two plain square columns and two pilasters.
The gable ends have two bays (windows) on the first floor and in the pediment there are two small windows allowing light and air to the half story sleeping area. There are two chimneys, one at each peak of the gable ends.
The cut stone foundation has window cuttings for four windows symmetrical with the first floor windows. The windows on the south side of the house are protected with a wooden slatted screen shown above.
Jay Slater’s Greek Revival Farm House
Jay Slater’s Residence, Gardner Township, Sangamon County, Illinois
The Jay Slater house is a classic Greek Revival farmhouse. It is a small neat brick house that still stands just a short distance from Farmington west of Springfield. It was most likely an active station on the underground railroad. The house is a one and half story rectangle with a center pediment at the front (east side) facing the road. There are two bays or windows on the front with a center doorway with sidelights and transom light. The gable ends have two bays on the first floor and in the pediment there are two windows allowing light and air to the second story sleeping area. There are two chimneys, one at each peak of the gable ends.
Jay Slater, a farmer, was born on February 25, 1795, in Massachusetts. He was married on March 12, 1826, in Sangamon County, to Lucretia Carman, who was born in 1806, in New York. Jay Slat¬er was a conductor on the underground railroad.
Davis Meredith’s Greek Revival Farm Residence
The Davis Meredith house is a classic Greek Revival farmhouse, perhaps the most historic still standing in Ball Township. While small and unpretentious, it is a classic adaptation of the Greek Revival style to the country.
Davis Meredith Residence, Ball Township, Sangamon County, Illinois
The house is a one and half story rectangle with the gable front facing the road. There are two bays or windows on the front with a center doorway with sidelights and transom light. The windows have a surround that is classic and 6/6 double sash.
There is a modest porch in Greek Revival style with two plain square columns and matching pilasters. The corner boards frame the façade. In the pediment above the front door there is a large window allowing light and air to the half story sleeping area.
Thomas Strawbridge’s Greek Revival Farm Residence
The Strawbridge-Shepherd Farm Site is located five miles south of downtown Springfield at the southern edge of the University of Illinois at Springfield campus. In 1845 the site was on an open prairie just west of Sugar Creek, now Lake Springfield.
Thomas Strawbridge’s Farm Residence, Woodside Township, Sangamon County, Illinois
In 1845, Thomas Strawbridge built the first phase of the house, what is now the two-story front of the house. It is a simple five-bay structure, two rooms wide and one room deep on each floor separated by a central hall. It is a classic example of a Midwestern broadside, two-story farmhouse with Greek Revival elements. All four rooms contained fireplaces that were framed with walnut mantels. There are two chimneys, one at each peak of the gable ends.
The 1845 house is a braced-frame structure of hand-hewn oak timbers secured with mortise and tenon joints, pinned when in tension and open when in compression. The quality of workmanship is exceptional. The floors are of oak. The lathe is hand-split hickory. The woodwork is walnut with some pine.
1874 Drawing of Thomas Strawbridge, Jr. Farm House
The center front entrance is a handsome recessed door, with a five paned transom above and sidelights. It is neatly framed by unfluted, square, pilasters and fine woodwork in the recess. Originally, there was a Greek Revival small portico supported by flat columns over the entrance door.
A wooden entablature crosses the facade at the roofline and originally returned at the gable ends.
Tinsley Building at Sixth and Adams Streets
The Tinsley Building at the southwest corner of Sixth and Adams Streets was built as a merchant block in the Greek Revival style circa 1840. a symmetrical arrangement of features, a low-pitched roof, and pilaster strips. It is three storys with and attic and has small attic windows set in the wide entablature along roof edge. These are called “Frieze” windows because of their location in the entablature.
The Tinsley Building, erected in 1840, at Sixth and Adams streets, was the first three-story building on the south side of the square and the finest brick business house in central Illinois. ...In 1841 the mercantile firm of S. M. Tinsley & Co., occupied the ground floor. Immediately above was the United States court room in which Lincoln practiced until 1855. Logan & Lincoln moved its office in late 1843, or early 1844, to the third floor, front. Here the firm remained until the dissolution of the partnership in the autumn of 1844, and here began the firm of Lincoln & Herndon.
The corner building, the Hurst & Taylor section, stands today and is a State of Illinois historic site known as the Lincoln Herndon Law Offices.
Drawing of the South Side of the Public Square: Circa 1860
Woodcut of the Tinsley Building,
South Side of the Public Square: June 4, 1850
West of the Tinsley Building stood the store of Yates & Smith. In late January 1861, Lincoln wished to write his inaugural address. The crowds that came to see him at his office made work on the address there difficult. Mr. Smith offered the use of a back room on the third floor above his last store room, an offer which was accepted.
First Methodist Church Annex
In 1842, the First Methodist Church built a wing to its church building. It was a one-story Greek-Revival I-Cottage. In 1852, it was moved to its present location at 605 South Fourth Street by John S. Condell
First Methodist Church Annex Built In 1842
It was a rectangle wooden Greek Revival structure with a center pediment at the eve front (east side). It had a wide entablature on each side. The dwelling has pedimented window hoods, cornice returns, a wide frieze (or entablature) board, and a front porch supported by Corinthian columns. Though predominately Greek Revival in character, the Condell House was influenced by the contemporary Italianate style and has decorative brackets along the cornice.
John Francis Rague’s Greek Revival Cottage
On July 15, 1842, John F. Rague advertised in the Journal “Houses, Lands, Farms and Lots—for sale.” One of the houses is described as a “Grecian Cottage” opposite the Second Presbyterian Church on the east side of Fourth, between Adams and Monroe Streets.
That well built and beautiful Grecian Cottage opposite the 2nd Presbyterian Church, 46 feet square, containing six rooms, a good cellar, garret room, closet, pantries, well-room, inner portico, and portico extending across the entire front and standing on a lot 78 ½ by 160 feet in a beautiful part of the city. A credit of one or two years will be given for one-quarter or one-half of the purchase money if desired.
This little ad tells us a great deal about the Grecian Cottage on South Fourth. The “Cottage” was 46 feet square, the same size as the Elijah Iles House. The use of the word “Grecian” by Rague confirms that the term Greek Revival or variants thereof had become a part of the public vocabulary of Springfield to the extent that it would be used in a newspaper advertisement to sell a “Grecian Cottage.”
The ad also raises questions. Was this Rague’s personal residence? And if so, did he design and construct the Grecian Cottage? When did he purchase the lot? The Lincolns moved from the Globe Tavern to the same block on South Fourth Street in the fall of 184_. Did they move to this Cottage or were they neighbors? Why was Rague selling all of this real estate?
1867 A. Ruter Perspective 1872 Perspective
First Presbyterian Church
In 1843, the First Presbyterian Church built a new building at the southeast corner of Third and Washington Streets. It was one of the finest Greek Revival structures built in Springfield.
The rectangular-massed First Presbyterian Church is a one story, stone, five bays deep, Greek Revival style structure with 20/20 double hung windows and with front gable pediment. It had a partial portico and a pediment supported by two columns and brick pilasters.
First Presbyterian Church, Springfield, Illinois Built in 1843
The square Doric corner pilasters provide a bold frame for each facade. The pediment has a tympanum of _________________________________ and is closed by a full entablature with a raking cornice of similar detail rising to the center ridge.
A double door centered on the front facade is the single commanding element to this elevation. Six stone steps lead up to the entry door, which is capped with a full entablature and flanked by Doric pilasters similar to those on the building corners. Each entry door has four vertil wood panels. There are two identical fixed vertical panels over each door creating a heightened appearance to the entrance and facade. The foundation is constructed of cut slabs of limestone.
The symmetrical sides, (east and west) have five bays, each containing seven foot high, 20/20 double hung, wood sash windows. The simple wood trim surrounds provides focus and emphasis on the window. The top of each window meets the entablature at the eave. The windows are large and give the appearance of there being more window than wall.
The (south) rear facade is a solid wall of clapboard siding. The returns of the open gable meet the tops of the corner pilasters and follow a raking cornice to the gable peak. The trim detail of the raking cornice repeats the front facade pediment.
The belfry, centered over the entrance door, extends above the front gable peak in plane with the front facade and consists of two tiers. First, a square block of horizontal flush board siding and plain corner Doric pilasters, serves as the base for the second tier open belfry. The second tier, stepped back from the square base, is a Queen Anne style belfry. The upper belfry has two open, half-round wood arches per side with round wood cut-out details at the corners of each arch. A vertical wood panel perimeter rail, with three panels at the base of each arch matches the panels of the entrance doors. The green metal pyramid roof of the tower contains a decorative triangular wood dormer on each of the four planes. The insert of the triangular dormer is white painted vertical flush siding. There is a weather vane at the peak of the belfry roof. The building was razed in 1912.
Sangamon County Court House
The Court House was just north of the Illinois State Bank on the southeast corner of Sixth and Washington streets. It faced the Public Square and the State House. Like the State House and the Bank, it was a classic Greek Revival building, being two stories with a portico and a pediment supported by six columns and brick pilasters. Unlike the limestone Bank and sandstone State House, however, the Court House was brick instead of stone, and its Doric columns were of sand-covered hollow wood. In 1877, Sangamon County tore down the Court House and sold the subdivided lot.
A special term of the County Commissioners’ Court was held on Saturday, April 5, 1845, to take into consideration the proposition for the purchase of ground for the erection of a new court house. The County Attorney, Stephen T. Logan, was instructed to purchase lots of James Dunlap and Robert Irwin, on the northeast corner of the square [Sixth and Washington Streets]. …The ground was purchased and a contract entered into with Henry Dresser, on the 11th day of April, 1845, for the construction of the building. ...It was erected according to contract, and occupied until the purchase from the State of the old capital building [in 1876], when the offices were removed.
The Sangamon County Court House and the
Springfield Marine and Fire Insurance Company
East Side of the Public Square: 1860
C. M. Smith Residence at Fifth and Jackson
In 1846, C. M. Smith, the husband of Mary Todd Lincoln’s sister, built a two story frame even front Greek Revival residence at the southwest corner of Fifth and Edwards Streets. It was a rectangle wooden five-bay structure with a center pediment at the front (east side) with two windows in the pediment. It had a wide entablature on each side. The center front entrance is a recessed door, with a three paned transom above and side lights. It is neatly framed by unfluted, square, pilasters and fine woodwork in the recess.
C. M. Smith Residence
First (Central) Baptist Church at Seventh and Adams
In 1846, C. M. Smith, the husband of Mary Todd Lincoln’s sister, built a two story frame even front Greek Revival residence at the southwest corner of Fifth and Edwards Streets. It was a rectangle wooden five-bay
Third Presbyterian Church at the Northwest Corner of Sixth and Monroe Streets
We are requested to state that in consequence of a number of persons having expressed a wish to see the inside of the new Third Presbyterian Church, before the dedication, it will be open to the public all day on Monday next, the 28th instant.
In giving the above notice, we cannot refrain from congratulating our friends of the Third Church on the near completion of the elegant and beautiful building with which they have ornamented our city. Although the exterior is yet incomplete, it never fails to arrest the attention of all observers by the beauty and grace of its design, the justness of its proportions, and the excellence of its execution; and it has been generally admired by all who give any attention to architecture.
The design is by Mr. George I. Barnett, of St. Louis, an architect of established reputation, to whom, for this design and that of the State Bank, our city is indebted for two of its chief architectural ornaments. Mr. Barnett has a fine genius for architecture, and has introduced in St. Louis a new and peculiar style which characterizes the ornamental architecture of that place, which he modestly calls. “St. Louis style,” but which others more justly call by the name of its originator. The Third Church is in this style of architecture. The design is entirely original, being Grecian in its general character, while, without belonging strictly to either of the regular orders, it violates no rule of that school of architecture. The design is light, graceful and striking in its general effect, and well adapted to the size and situation of the building.
The structure is novel in its character, being entirely of wood, worked into an imitation of stone, the base representing plain cut stone, and the remainder of the walls representing rustic work. It is to be sanded after the manner of most of the finer class of building in St. Louis. When this is done the imitation of stone will be perfect. The erection of such a building would have been somewhat of a novelty in the great cities, and was quite an undertaking for the young architect of this place who has executed it. It is due to Mr. Thomas J. Dennis, in this notice to say, that he has executed the design throughout in a manner that has called forth the approval and admiration of many competent judges, who have notice the work. This and some other structures of his execution give the best evidence of his devotion to the study of the science of his calling and show that he needs only practice in its higher branches to place him among the best practical architects.
The interior of the church is chiefly from a design my Mr. Barnett. It was intended for the modern plan of finish now general in the cities, by which a fine effect is produced in church architecture, at a very moderate expense. Instead of an elaborate and expensive finish of wooden columns, stucco cornices, &c. as formerly was the custom, when a fine room was desired, it is now the practice to finish the room with a plain coat of common plastering and to imitate the architectural decorations in fresco painting. In the bands of an artist of fine taste and skill, very beautiful effects are produced in this way, and the representation of columns, pilasters, cornices, &c. are so perfect as often to deceive.
Mr. L. D. Pomarade, a noted artist in this line, has just finished the painting of the interior of the church, and has afforded such a beautiful exemplification of his fine taste and execution, which are now giving grace and beauty to many of the public edifices in the great cities. His work excites unusual admiration. Those who are familiar with such things have readily accorded him all due praise, while those of us to whom this kind of effect is new have never failed to express much surprise at the beauty of the work and the perfection of the imitations.
We would be doing injustice to a promising young mechanic if we were to omit to mention the painting of the pulpit, pews, &c. the graining , bronzing, &c. , of which are done in a very creditable style by Mr. John G. Huntington, of this place.
On the whole, we think our city has some right to be proud of its public buildings, and of now more than of this beautiful little church, which we do not much fear to say is one of the prettiest churches of its size in all the country.
First Christian Church at Sixth and Jefferson Streets
The record of February 15, 1852, shows that a committee consisting of Jonathan R. Saunders, Stephen T. Logan, William F. Elkin, William Lavely and Joseph W. Bennett was appointed to make arrangements for a “more suitable house of worship.” A new lot at the northeast corner of Sixth and Jefferson Streets was purchased at a cost of $1,300 and a building 40’ by 60’ erected under the contractorship of Joseph W. Bennett. The building was dedicated in 1853.
In 1853, the Christian Church built a new rectangular-massed one story, brick structure at the northeast corner of Sixth and Jefferson Streets. It was a classic Greek Revival church building with a front gable pediment and square Doric corner pilasters providing a frame for each facade. The pediment had a tympanum of brick and was closed by a full entablature with a raking cornice of similar detail rising to the center ridge.
First Christian Church at the Northeast Corner of
Sixth and Jefferson Streets, Built in 1853
A double door was centered on the front facade. There is a rectangular light above the doors with six lights creating a heightened appearance to the entrance and facade. The foundation is constructed of cut slabs of limestone.
There were two windows on the first floor, one on either side of the center door. There were three windows on the second floor. The simple 6/6 double hung, wood sash windows with wood trim surrounds provided focus and emphasis on the window. The top of each window on the second floor meets the entablature at the eave.
Enterprise Building Built by John Roll
In 1854, the Enterprise Building was constructed by John Roll on the north side of Washington Street just west of Fifth Street. It was a three story five bay brick structure with a cornice of brick dentals. The window hoods are iron with a decorative motif in _______. The building is strikingly similar to the building being built in New York City.
Enterprise Building Built in 1854
State of Illinois Arsenal
In 1855, the State of Illinois built an arsenal on the east side of Fifth Street, between Mason and Carpenter. It was a rectangle brick building with a pediment at the center front (west side) and pilasters at the corners and at the center between bays. It had a wide entablature on each side. The entry was a wide arched opening allowing horses and wagons to enter. The north and south sides had five bays with rectangular sash in the ground level and larger arched windows above.
Illinois State Arsenal Built in 1855
First Methodist (Episcopal) Church
at Southeast Corner of Fifth and Monroe Streets
In 1855, a new church was constructed at the southeast corner of Fifth and Monroe Streets for the First Methodist Episcopal Church. Its original cost was about $10,000. It was a classic Greek Revival brick church building with a front gable pediment and brick pilasters. It originally had a very handsome spire, removed by a strong wind and placed in the yard below.
The square Doric corner pilasters provide a frame for each facade. The pediment at the center front has a tympanum of ____________ and is closed by a full entablature with a raking cornice of similar detail rising to the center ridge.
Methodist (Episcopal) Church at Fifth and Monroe Streets Built in 1855
An entry door centered on the front facade …. is capped with a full entablature and flanked by Doric pilasters similar to those on the building corners. The symmetrical sides, (north and south) have six bays, each containing high windows. The top of each appears to meet the entablature at the eave. The church originally had a steeple that can be seen the drawing below. It was a _____.
Drawing Showing the Steeple of the Methodist (Episcopal) Church at Fifth and Monroe Streets Built in 1855
Portuguese Church at Eighth and Miller Northeast Corner
In 18__, the Portuguese Church built a new brick building at the northeast corner of Eighth and Miller Streets. It was a classic Greek Revival church building with a front gable pediment and square Doric corner pilasters providing a frame for each facade. The pediment has a tympanum of _________ and is closed by a full entablature with a raking cornice of similar detail rising to the center ridge.
A double door centered on the front facade ….
The symmetrical sides, (east and west) have five bays, each containing seven foot high____.
Lincolns Remodel Home
In 1856, the Lincolns added a story to their home. The original first story was built in 1839.
Lincoln Home 1856
First Ward School (Palmer)
Mason, Between 12th and 13th Streets
Palmer School Built In 1856
On April 14, 1856, Springfield’s first public school building, the First Ward School opened. It was located on East Mason, between 12th and 13th Streets and was later known as the Palmer School. The brick building was two stories, the lower with four rooms and the upper included a large hall, two recitation rooms and two smaller rooms suitable for library and apparatus.
…entire building, accommodations for three hundred and twenty four pupils. Cost of ground and improvements, about $12, 000.
As will be noted, it was a plain, rather severe-looking structure, typical of its period, with a paling fence enclosing the grounds. …
Third Ward School (Edwards)
Edwards and Spring Streets
The Third Ward school house [Edwards School], situated on the [northeast] corner of Edwards and Spring streets, occupies a lot measuring three hundred and twenty feet on Edwards, and one hundred and fourteen on Spring street. This building is in all respects after the same pattern as that of the First Ward, and, together with its grounds, cost about the same amount of money.
Third Ward (Edwards) School
Northeast Corner of Spring and Edwards Streets
Peter Cartwright Methodist Church
Peter Cartwright Methodist Church, Pleasant Plains, Illinois
This is the third Peter Cartwright Methodist Church, built in 1857. It is located at 209 West Church Street in Pleasant Plains, Illinois.
North Side of Public Square
North Side of the Public Square Looking East: Circa 1859
In 1857, John Williams built a banking house on the north side of the Public Square. It is shown in the above photograph, the first three-story building from the left.
Banking house of John Williams & Co., north side Square. Size 20 by 80 feet; three stories; with ornamental front, entirely of iron, from the celebrated works of Miles Greenwood, Cincinnati; Sutton & Brother, builders; brick work by Geo. Wise; painting by E. G. Johns. The roof is of iron, known as Outcalt’s elastic, metallic roof being the first of that kind introduced here; it was put on by P. A. Dorwin & Co. This building, when completed, will be highly ornamental, and will attract much attention. Cost 7,000 dollars.
North Side of the Public Square: Circa 1860
North Side of Public Square The Eagle Block or Carpenter’s Building at the Northwest Corner
of Sixth and Washington Streets Circa 1870s
A brick block on corner of Washington and Sixth streets, on the north side of the square; size 37 feet on Washington, and 88 feet on Sixth street, better known as the Eagle block, named from the profusion of bronzed eagles which adorn the two fronts, and give it quite an American appearance. The main front on Washington street is divided into two store rooms; the front shutters are on the improved plan of sliding; the first story in front is of iron; the window caps and sills are of iron; roof of tin; the second floor is designed for offices; the third for a public hall. It is a fine, substantial building, an ornament to our city, and a credit to both owner and builder. Owned by William Carpenter; designed by Warwick; Warwick & Ball builders, brick work by Millington & Dewey; painting by Pease & Webb.
West Side of the Public Square
West Side of the Public Square: Circa 1860
The two-story buildings to the left are thought to be typical of the pre-1850’s buildings on the Public Square. They survived the fire of 1852. The three-story buildings to the right were built after the fire of 1855.
North End of Fifth Street on Public Square, 1870’s Photograph
Northwest Corner of Fifth and Washington
This photograph shows the northwest corner of Fifth and Washington Streets, known in the 19th century as Freeman’s Corner.
“Never before in the annuals of our city were there such manifestations of progress and improvement as during the present season . ..Messrs. Freeman on the North West corner, are building a three story brick, twenty feet front by ninety feet deep. The improvement will add very materially the appearance of that corner.”
Northeast Corner of Fifth and Monroe
GREEK REVIVAL STRUCTURES IN SPRINGFIELD
Elijah Iles House, 1837 John Francis Rague (?)
Lawson Leavering House, 1838
Rev. Charles Dresser Cottage, 1839
John Francis Rague’s Grecian Cottage, circa 1840. John Francis Rague (?)
Strawbridge Shepherd House, 1840
Davis Meredith House
John Gardner House
Jay Slater House
Illinois State House, 1837 John Francis Rague
Sangamon County Court House, 1845
Illinois State Arsenal, 1855
First and Third Ward Schools, 1856
American House, 1837
Illinois State Bank, 1839 John Francis Rague (?)
Tinsley Building, 1841
Enterprise Building, 1854
Second Presbyterian Church, 1839
First Presbyterian Church, 1843
Third Presbyterian Church, 1851 George I. Barnett, St. Louis
First Christian Church, 1853
Methodist Episcopal Church, 1855
ELEMENTS OF GREEK REVIVAL ARCHITECTURE
The identifying elements of Greek Revival architecture were:
• emphasis on straight line and symmetry
• 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 storys
• medium or steeply pitched gable roof or hip roof
• often featuring central pedimented porch [portico]
• center door accented by rectangular transom and sidelights
• Gable front design, where the house is placed on short-side facing street and the door is off center because of narrow width of plan. Popular for narrow street frontages favoured by developing towns and cities.
• decorative classical features include dentils, return eaves, pilasters, flat or pedimented hoods over windows
Gable Front: pediment, temple-fronted buildings and entry facing the street and usually supported by columns or pilasters. The State Bank shown to the right is an example of a gable front.
1. as a classical temple front with triangular pediment and columns (some examples have wings on either side of the central section);
2. set off with a triangular pediment and corner pilasters;
3. emphasized with cornice returns and corner pilasters.
Eve Front: the eaves face the street and they are finished with a cornice. The gable side is embellished with a cornice return. The Elijah Iles House shown to the right is an example of an eve front.
Chimneys: usually thin and plain; not a prominent design aspect.
Color: entirely painted white in an attempt to resemble the marble exterior of the originals Greek marble temples.
Columns: freestanding or applied to the façade--pilasters.
Entablature: wide and heavier than the Federal but has the same three components:
1. architrave at the top (seen here with dentil molding);
2. frieze section in the middle;
3. cornice at the bottom (seen here on top of the column with Ionic capital); a wide band of trim often with dentils.
Entry Door: doorways usually have rectangular transoms and sidelights. (never rounded like federal)
Porch: can run the width or the height of the structure with square or rounded columns (usually Doric).
Roof: hipped or gable, low-pitched; lower than in earlier years; roof height is also minimized by a parapet at the eaves or a flattened deck at the ridge.
Windows: large, double–hung multi-paned, like this 6/6 (six over six) example.
Window openings set in masonry are marked by emphatic lintels, sometimes with carved keystones. Wooden window surrounds are heavily molded and may also emphasize a corner block or a heavy pediment.
Attic windows may be in the triangular pediment as shown below.
Side-gabled, one-and-a-half storied examples often have small windows set in the wide entablature along roof edge. These ARE CALLED “FRIEZE” WINDOWS BECAUSE OF THEIR LOCATION IN THE ENTABLATURE. [THEY ARE ALSO INCORRECTLY REFERRED TO AS “EYEBROW” WINDOWS,]
The use of ornament is not common and in those cases where it is present, it is exclusively Classical in style. Greek orders are modified to accord with American taste and carpenter skill ñ free rather than mechanical interpretations of their prototypes. Dormers are not usual.
Greek Revival Style: 1820s to 1850sThe Greek Revival is often considered the first truly American style. Earlier styles were inspired by English building fashions and frequently built from English pattern books. The Greek Revival style arose out of a young nation’s desire to identify with the ideals of the ancient Greek Republic. Inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece, buildings in this style are patterned after Greek temples. The triangular gable end which, usually faces the street, is analogous to the temple pediment, while the flat horizontal board which runs along the length of the gable represents the classical entablature
Greek Revival in America: From Tara to farmhouse temples. By James C. Massey and Shirley Maxwell
Americans of the early 19th century saw several good reasons for adapting at least some aspects of Greek classicism to their own houses, churches, and public buildings. For starters, Greece’s struggle for independence from Turkey was at its height in the 1820s, reminding Americans of their own hard-won sovereignty. Greece, the world’s first democracy, seemed an appropriate philosophical reference point for a self-confident new republic. Plus, with its air of antiquity, Greek Revival architecture brought a sense of permanence and solidity to the spanking-new American landscape. It’s very austerity proclaimed the sturdy self-reliance of a nation that was pushing westward with all its might, conquering new frontiers at the same time it was trying to establish its cultural credentials with the Old World.
Not that Americans were interested in re-creating an archeologically “pure” form of Greek architecture. While they admired the austere beauty of Greece’s post-and-lintel buildings, their practical minds insisted on buildings that used 19th-century technology and accommodated 19th-century lifestyles. They were in search of a “National Style” of architecture reflecting their own time and place—one that would represent America’s abundance and energy as well as its political and cultural ideals. They wanted a style that betokened a glorious future as well as a glorious past. The Greek example, properly modified, seemed to fit their needs.
Although the details varied from region to region and from one economic stratum to another, the general characteristics of this new-old style include simplicity, as well as an emphatic rectilinear geometry and insistent symmetry of form.
In the South, the two-storey portico (which might be called the “Tara” model) was often used even on rather small houses. At the other end of the spectrum was the charming, small temple-form house in 1 or 1 1/2 storey’s, basically a cottage hiding behind a pedimented porch with columns. In New England, Upstate New York, and the Northwest Territory (Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, which were just then being settled by a wave of New Englanders), the most common form was a blocky farmhouse, often sans porch and full columns but with handsome pilasters or attached square columns at the corners of a pedimented gable front.
The style evolved over time as well as across geographic areas, settlement patterns, and economic strata. First, in the 1820s and 1830s, came the rich man’s high-style Greek Revival “temple” with its impressive four-columned two-storey portico and prominent pediment. Then, as the middle class picked up the idea in the 1830s and 1840s, the portico was scaled down. It became a porch, with plain columns or square posts and a simplified pediment. This economy version might have four columns and three bays stretching across the entire front of the house, or it might have only a single bay at the entrance. It was more often one storey high than two storeys. In freestanding houses, the temple form required a gable front, but practicality or preference very often called for end gables instead, with the entrance on a long side. Either way, the pediment might be formed by a full-length frieze or it might be merely suggested by bold cornice returns that extended only part way in from the corners.
Roof pitches, which had been flattening noticeably from the colonial through the federal period, became even flatter with the advent of the Greek Revival style. In fact, some roofs seemed to have no slope at all, because they were hidden behind straight parapets and balustrades, paneled or ornamented with upstanding palmettes. Other buildings had broad gables and heavy full or partial cornice returns, representing the classical Greek temple form. The cornice might display a row of tooth-like dentil moulding.
The most familiar characteristic of the Greek Revival roofline, however, was a deep frieze, often undecorated except perhaps for a row of the distinctive Greek triglyph and metope ornament. This was usually enough for all but the most fashionable mansions. Even simpler dwellings might have nothing beyond a wide board frieze, minus dentils, triglyphs, or metopes, to suggest their Greek connections.
Windows became much larger in the Greek Revival period, as factory-made glass, transported to growing towns and prosperous farms by rail or canal, became easier to come by. Tall six-over-six double-hung windows brought light to graciously proportioned interiors with high ceilings. Sometimes the windows extended from near the ceiling to the floor, making it possible to step through to the porch beyond. Floor plans featured center or side halls.
Although Greek-derived wooden ornament was generally simple in form, the intricate decorative ironwork of the period was another story altogether. Magnificent cast- or wrought-iron designs appeared on fences, balconies, and roof-top acroteria, providing a fanciful finishing touch for the rather stiff architecture. As the Industrial Revolution matured and foundry technology improved, cast iron almost entirely replaced the earlier wrought iron.
By 1850 railroads and canals carried machine-made wooden ornament to even remote outposts, doing away with much of the painstaking handwork once required for fluted column shafts, elaborate capitals, and other ornament. Generally, ornate Corinthian column capitals of the Georgian era were seen less frequently than simpler Ionic scrolled capitals and plain Doric columns, fluted or unfluted, without platforms, or bases. Rectangular transoms above the doorways were more common than semi-elliptical fanlights in Greek Revival houses, and while fancy tracery in wood or iron often appeared in transoms or sidelights, these were more often undecorated rectangles. Flat, wide trim surrounded doors and windows. Molded panels were often set into the walls below windows, both inside and outside the house.
Decline of Greek Revival Style
The Greek Revival was, as its early proponents claimed, America’s first truly national style, and it dominated the era of Manifest Destiny. It easily outdistanced the picturesque Gothic Revival, its closest competitor in the early 19th-century “War of the Styles.” A very different kind of conflict brought an end to the elegance of the Greek Revival period, however. After the Civil War, Victorian eclecticism reigned on the home front. In a fast-moving industrialized country, the stark symmetry of the Greek Revival house seemed hopelessly stiff and even boring. Although the style kept its appeal for public buildings and churches, Greek Revival houses soon became relics of a simpler time, the time Before the War.