Russell "Rialto" Building

The Russell Building was built in 1905 at 121 - 123 West Church Street. On Tuesday November 12, 1915 Mr. and Mrs. Charles Russell opened the Belvoir Theater. The theater was built for stage shows as well as films with the opening show being Beverly’s…

Park "Art" Theater

Designed in 1913 by Chicago architect Lewis E. Russell, the Art stands as Downtown’s longest continuing theater. The owner of the building was B.F. Cooper who choose many of the details based on this tours of leading playhouses in Chicago. Local…

Robeson Building

There is perhaps no one department store more synonymous with Downtown Champaign than F.K. Robeson’s. Frank Kurn Robeson started his department store business in 1874 in the building currently known as the Metropolitan Building at 223 North Neil…

Masonic Temple

The Masonic Temple was dedicated on January 9, 1914 by Henry T. Burnap, Most Worshipful Grand Master. This grand space was described in the following text taken from the dedication program in 1914: “This building is 79 X 109 feet, having the main…

First Presbyterian Church

In 1850 the First Presbyterian Church Organized in a wood frame structure built at Hill and State, unbeknownst to congregation, they would become the longest organized church in Champaign. Shortly after they began to outgrow their building, the small…

First United Methodist Church

Built in 1906 the present church represents the third Methodist Church to occupy the site at Church and State Streets. The Methodist congregation was organized shortly after the Illinois Central Depot was complete in 1854. After locating in several…

West Side Park

Originally laid out as a public square and potential site for a new County Courthouse, West Side Park, formally known as White Park was named for John P. White who donated the land the park now sits on. At the time of its construction the City of…

Virginia Theater

For over 80 years the Virginia Theater has served and queen of downstate theaters. This 1,800 seat movie palace, designed by C. Howard Crane and Kenneth Franzheim, opened on December 28, 1921. The building combines Spanish and Italian Renaissance…

Walker Opera House

Built by John “Wall” Mulliken of Walker and Mulliken Furniture Store, The Walker Opera House was one of Champaign’s first theaters. Unlike most of the Vaudeville houses built before it, the Walker was a theater in the true sense with a large stage…

Lewis Department Store Building

Matched only by the F.K. Robeson Company, W. Lewis Department store was a solid anchor of retail in Downtown for over sixty years. Started by Wolf Lewis, who followed his father and immigrated from Poland in 1897, it began as a small dry good store…

City Building

Constructed between 1935 and 1937, this Art Deco icon stood as the tallest building in Downtown Champaign when completed. This building replaced the 1889 building designed by Seeley Brown. The building was designed by George Ramey and funded by…

Inman Hotel

On March 11, 1915 local businessman George Inman opened his grand hotel with a magnificent dinner prepared by a new chef brought straight from Boston. Over $200,000 was invested in its construction and it quickly became the most elegant and plush…

Illinois Central Railroad Terminal

When completed in 1924 this beautiful Beaux-Arts inspired station was promoted as the largest and most complete structure of its kind in any city the size of Champaign. At the time the populationwas 15,873. The station was constructed at the same…

First National Bank Building

Constructed in 1909 the First National Bank Building represents one of the first steel-constructed buildings in Champaign. The Chicago firm Mundie and Jensen built the Second Renaissance Revival building to represent the strength of the financial…

Willis Department Store Building

Godfrey Willis immigrated from England in 1872 by way of Philadelphia, and together with Harry Scott opened G.C. Willis Department Store seen here on the right. Lasting over 84 years the building would eventually lose its historic appearance and…

Downtown Fountain

Unfortunately not much is known about the origin of the Downtown Fountain. What is known is that this landmark shows up in photographs before the turn of the 20th century. The 1887 Sandborn fire insurance maps show a well at this location which leads…

New Orpheum Theater

Built in the Classical Revival style, this beautiful 800 seat theater was constructed by the famous architects Cornelius and George Rapp of Carbondale, IL. George was a graduate of the University of Illinois School of Architecture. in 1899. Their…

Nathan Ricker House

BUILDING HISTORY Designed by the famous Nathan Clifford Ricker, this was the only residential house he ever designed throughout his career. Nathan Ricker made a name for himself by becoming the first licensed American architect and went on to become…

Spurlock Museum

BUILDING HISTORY The modern Spurlock Museum as we know it today looked significantly different and had many different forms since the foundation of the museum was erected back in 1911. From 1911 until 2002, the museum operated from Lincoln Hall's…

Old Urbana Cemetery (Leal Park)

Old Urbana Cemetery, now known as Leal Park, was the first burial ground for early settlers, slaves, soldiers and travelers. It was located at the intersection of present-day Race and University Ave. along the banks of the Boneyard Creek. The first…

History of Illinois Homecoming: 1970s- Recent Past

Despite the debacle of 1969 and the Illini Union Board Homecoming Committee chairman's estimation that there would be no Homecoming the next year, there was a Homecoming in 1970. That year organizers and participants attempted to make the tradition…

History of Illinois Homecoming: 1950s-1960s

The decade of the 1950s opened with the crowning of two noteworthy Homecoming queens. In 1950 Mildred Fogel ’52 wore the “Miss Illinois” crown; in later years, “Millie” starred in the “Mission Impossible” TV series and would be better known by her…

Champaign County Poor Farm Burial Ground

The Champaign County Poor Farm burial ground is the story of a forgotten and rediscovered cemetery and its history. Construction work in the 1970s unearthed a portion of the Champaign County Poor Farm burial ground, reawakening the existence of this…

Altgeld Hall

Altgeld Hall, originally known as the Library Building, is one of the oldest and most unique buildings on campus. Dedicated on June 8th, 1897, it was designed by Professor Nathan Ricker, the first person to receive a degree in architecture both from…