Hometown Pride

Springfield, IL in 1932 View Content

200 Years of Sangamon County

From eating at Maid-Rite America’s first Drive-Thru in Springfield to attending the Cheap Thrills concert at The Mansion in Riverton 1990. A citizen who became the Railsplitter Candidate and a local football player grows up to own the Chicago Bears.

What is your favorite part of your hometown? We decided the best experts are you- Sangamon County, Illinois residents- people who cheered on the “Baby Birds,” rue I-55 rush-hour traffic, who grew up learning about Abraham Lincoln in Illinois and have banded together to help each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sangamon Experience asked the public to submit images of objects they think best represent their town. The parameters were broad: an object could also be a person, a place, an institution, or an idea. After receiving submissions, we assembled twenty pieces that represent the themes identified by the public. In addition to items from the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Archives, we have partnered with many local institutions and individuals to gather artifacts from around Sangamon County to tell this community-driven story.

If you have a story you would like to share about your community in Sangamon County please email the Sangamon Experience at sangamonexperience@uis.edu

School Days in Sangamon County

According to the Sangamon County Historical Society’s Sangamon Link, the first school in Springfield was created in 1821, “with about 50 students taught by Andrew Orr, the first schoolhouse was build in 1828 at Second and Adams streets.” In 1837 Erastus Wright, one of Sangamon County’s early settlers, was named president of the Sangamon County Society for Promotion of Education and held the office of county school commissioner for 10 years. In that post, he supervised the disbursement of proceeds from the sale of government land for local schools.

Springfield High School opened September 4th, 1857 in a small building on Market street, know known as Capital Avenue, this was the first public high school in Springfield, Illinois. The school remained in this location for one school year before it moved to the Academy Building on South 5th Street new Monroe until 1864. In 1865, a $65,000 school building was completed for the high school and as located on 4th and Madison Street. By 1915 the school was over crowded, plans were made to erect a new school in Forest Park. The location was once the site of a church and the Hutchinson Cemetery, the church was gone and the cemetery was moved to Oak Ridge. By 1916 the new school building was completed and generations of Springfield students continue to walk the historic halls.

Sangamon County Schools Timeline


Coming in May The Great Outdoors!

Discover the rich landscape of Sangamon County and our stories that tie us to the great outdoors.

Iron Springs in Washington Park. Lincoln Library, The Public Library of Springfield, Illinois (Sangamon Valley Collection)