500 Block of Monroe (1983)



  1. this is a fantastic photo.

  2. What was playing at the Senate?

  3. Benno:

    “Closed: Soon to be a part of Lincoln Square”

  4. Giuseppe:

    It looks really nice and I think if I were back in Spfd I’d love to live there but man I sure do miss the old downtown!

  5. brad:

    This really brings back memories! I saw the movies, “Halloween” and “The Exorcist” sitting in the balcony with my high school buddies. Progress can be depressing sometimes.

  6. Giuseppe:

    You’re right about that Brad! I remember seeing It’s Alive there then walking home afterward! It was scary trying to walk home in the dark after watching that movie!

  7. Steve:

    I remember seeing Condorman, of all things, at the Senate. My brother got to see Heavy Metal there.

  8. Paul H:

    Wow. I forgot about Capitol Q. Great place to kill time before or after a show at the Senate.

  9. Donna C:

    Does anyone remember Roy Conn’s it was right next door to the Senate. Also a good place to hang before and after show. Now we are telling our ages.

    • Toni Hilton Anderson:

      Hilton Girls and family……Roy Conn’s grill on left side of the Senate and Roy Conn’s Cafeteria on the right side!! Late 60’s best years ever! First job and worked both places and at the fairgrounds on workers permit at age 15……wow, what fun memories with the Conn’s. Our mother managed Roy Conn’s on Washington Street. The Conn family are the best people in the world!

  10. What is the little white building next to Conn’s catering.Great memories

  11. Elaine:

    Well Russ, that answered my previous question. Yes, Giuseppe, this is a pretty nice place to live, particularly if you work downtown… though I do often wish some of those old stores, restaurants, etc. were still around. I have lived in Spfld only since 2005 so all these old pictures are new to me :)

  12. Giuseppe:

    Elaine I would love living there with the whole downtown atmosphere and we’d go to all the old places that were still around! Is Bachman Keefner’s still open? I remember being 4 and getting my first chocolate soda there when my sister worked behind the counter back in the mid 60’s! Great memories…

  13. Scott:

    Giuseppe – Bachman Keefner is no longer open; however, the building is still there. I walked by it the other day, but I can’t recall what the name of the place is now. I believe it’s still a cafe of some sort. It was still called Bachman Keefner up until a couple of years ago, and the name is still painted on the front window.

    I also have memories of the Senate. My most interesting one is when I was working in the Leland Hotel up on the 8th or 9th floor. One day I looked out my window to see the Sentate in flames! I think this was in the late 1970s. I can’t recall whether the theatre ever re-opened prior to being demolished for Lincoln Square a few years later. Judging by the picture here, it must have been repaired. I can’t recall ever being in the Senate, but I’m sure I was.

  14. Jay:

    That wasnt the Senate on fire it was a building off of 5th street I beleive it housed a portion of Tom & Sallys in it. it was in 1981 or 82 approx. I remember the building burning to the ground basically

  15. Giuseppe:

    Hey Scott!
    Thanks for the info! Too bad about it not being Bachman Keefner’s but at least the building is still there with the name on it! I guess its progress and years from now our favorite current haunts will become, hopefully recycled too…

  16. John:

    That photo brings back memories! A nephew of mine was born that year and the building in between the red brick building on the Senate’s right in photo, and the fox photo building, was a gift shop or flower shop, where we bought blue gum cigar’s with “its a boy” on them. Anybody remember the store’s name? I also remember Fox photo, Capital Q and Thrifty’s across the street, my brother and I used to bother our mom to buy us candy when we went in there. I saw King Kong, the Prophecy, Exorcist rerelease in 1978 and Halloween III there, maybe others but I no longer recall. I was 12 that year, and we lived on the 600 block of North 4th.

  17. Giuseppe:

    Hey John! I’m not real sure but I think I remember Springfield florist or Springfield flower shop in that area… I remember skipping school to see King Kong back then at the Senate! We were on the ten hundred block of North 6th from about 74 til around 80 or so… The Best old days!

  18. Jerry Waters:

    The small white building was C Robert Fults Optometry for a long time.

    Does anyone remember around 1974 when the Senate was used to screen a XXX movie accused of being pornographic? It was considered to be open court and anyone could attend. I didn’t, but the content was probably considered average today.
    If I remember correctly, Roy Conn’s first venture, little more than a counter and grill with him as the only employee, was about 2 blocks west from the place in this picture, his 2nd location.

  19. Mike:

    Cool picture. It brings back memories. I used to hang at Capital Q every day after school. Spent a lot of time and money there.

  20. Jason:

    Wasn’t Capital Q on 5th street as well? I thought it was on the alley between Adams and Washington. I remember going in there to play pool or video games while waiting for buses.

  21. Anonymous:

    Jason, yes there was a Capital Q Billiards on 5th street, just south of Washington. It was the building right next to Bergner’s, I believe. Or maybe it was the 2nd building south of Bergner’s. I shot pool there frequently as well. I don’t remember for sure, but I would guess it moved there after its Monroe location was razed for the Lincoln Square apartments.

  22. Jason:

    Thanks! After they decided to renovate downtown while I was away from the city, I was wondering if I was remembering things correctly.

  23. Kelly:

    Wow, the memories! I loved the Senate and I can remember my dad taking me there to see Halloween III, Masoleum, and Grease (I think). Gosh, I miss old downtown!

  24. Jerry M.:

    I believe there was an Osco’s in this block also back in the 50’s. I was born in Spfld. in 1949 and remember the good old downtown. Worked at both Thrifty drug stores on 5th and 6th and Monroe. Art Smith was my boss>

  25. Giuseppe:

    I’ve been gone for about 17 years now, so has downtown changed that much? It would be a dream to be able to move back home and live somewhere near downtown that seemed untouched by time… I don’t know why, there are so many great places to live but if Springfield is home to you than its the only place that will be “home” no matter where you end up! What do you guys think?

  26. It wasn’t the Senate that burned down, it was Herbert George Photography Studio at 224 1/2
    S. 5th. The building was on the east side of 5th St. close to Monroe.
    That studio had tons of historical photos that they were in the process of donating to the Sangamon Valley Collection at the library.
    All those photos and the negatives were lost in the fire. They had special cameras to take panoramic pictures of famous people and places in Springfield dating back to who knows when. All that history was lost in just minutes.

  27. Tonya:

    When I was little, (early ’70’s) my Grandma would take all of us grandkids downtown. We’d dress in nice clothes, ride the bus downtown and spend the day. I remember playing in the water at the fountain located in between the Municiple Building, and the current SPR police department. We’d go to the K-mart and we’d go see a movie at the Senate. I can remember seeing Fantasia. Grandma would buy us each a box of popcorn, which I thought was totally cool. As a senior in high school in 1982/83, the last movie I saw at the Senate was the Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight. Also, as a high schooler, My friends and I would ride the bus downtown, to study at the library or goof off and then hit the McDonalds afterwards, before riding the bus back home. I actually like our downtown; it’s so quaint, and I love the restored buildings. It add’s so much personality.

  28. Giuseppe:

    Tonya You certainly paint a wonderfully vivid and sweet picture of your experience with your grandma and downtown! What great memories! We grew up about the same time… The Senate was great! I think one of the last movies I saw there was King Kong back in about 77… Of course for me it did not involve a sweet grandma but rather skipping school and needing something to do rather than going home early and coming up with an explanation of how I got out early! hahaaa Thank you Tonya for sharing such a beautiful memory, you’ve made my day!

  29. Tonya:

    Giuseppe, Your kind comments have made me smile. My Grandma always said it was important for us to know where we came from. She was always taking us to Lincoln’s Home, Lincoln’s Tomb, the Old State Capital or to the museum. And we loved it when we went to Clayville or New Salem. It seemed like the longest trips to drive there. Grandma would pack our lunch and we’d spend the whole day there. On the way back home from New Salem, we’d always stop in Salisbury for ice cream. I think my favorite ‘trips’ with Grandma were the ones in which we could ride the city bus. I loved riding the bus downtown. Grandma is terribly missed by us all, but she gave us the greatest gift of wonderful memories.

  30. Giuseppe:

    So were there about 3 kids going on the outings usually? Just curious…
    I remember hearing once that the trip for Abraham Lincoln would have been an entire days journey from New Salem to Springfield! I Love all the places you mentioned! Going to them just made you feel like a part of history, almost in a spiritual sort of way… Its hard to explain without sounding like a nut haha, but I think you understand because you felt it too, didn’t you Tonya! On a personal note Tonya I don’t think your Grandma is too far away as she is still inspiring people with loving, warm memories and that spiritual feeling that comes with them!

  31. Bloaty:

    Is that Conn’s Catering next door to the Senate? I saw “Heavy Metal” there too, I had forgotten that. I also saw “Tron” and a really bad 3D movie called “Comin’ at Ya” My first job was at Conn’s.

  32. Tonya:

    Giuseppe, When Grandma would take us downtown, two of my aunts would usually go too, along with about 8 or 9 of us grandkids! One of my cousins (who is my age) lived with Grandma when we were about 7 years old. So, I would spend the night over there alot. Grandma would take us downtown or just do something with just the two os us. She and Grandpa Herman used to take us to Rockhome Gardens in Arcola too. We’d usually stop at a gas station on the way home and get one of those little bottles of Pepsi out of the soda machine, by opening the little door and pulling the bottle out. Do you remember those pop machines? I’ve taken my girls downtown on the bus a few times. They thinks it’s pretty cool (Now that I’m older, I think it’s pretty scary!). And to Lincoln’s home, Old State Capital, Lincoln’s Tomb and to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Musuem. I think it’s important too, that they understand how historial this city is. Last Monday, President’s Day, my family and my sisters family went to Lincoln’s Home and Tomb. Her children are from Texas, so they’d never been there. It is still fascinating to me. Unfortunately, the Tomb was closed, but we got some great pictures rubbing Lincoln’s nose. Grandma always said we needed to rub Lincoln’s nose for good luck.

  33. Giuseppe:

    Hey Tonya!
    See I was testing my psychic ability and its no wonder I haven’t hit the lottery yet! haha!
    I do remember those soda machines where you’d pull out the bottle and as a kid I was always concerned that it was going to grab my hand back or that if I didn’t pull it hard enough it would take my money! Vending machines have certainly changed a lot too over the years!
    It sounds like you guys had fun even though the tomb was closed… and how wonderful that you continue the tradition of taking your kids on the bus to visit the sites! I bet it is kind of scary now… things have changed a lot haven’t they Tonya… but still how great for your kids to experience it all! My fondest memories of Springfield are of the downtown area and all the Lincoln sites! I know how fortunate I am for living so much of my life there! Springfield will certainly always be “home” and people like you Tonya just epitomize that feeling of “home”! Thank you Tonya!

  34. Janet:

    Reading the posts here brought back so many memories of downtown Springfield. I grew up close to downtown and went to grade school at St. Peter and Paul on Mason St. We went downtown after school and every Saturday. Back then there were so many stores (no need for the “mall”) I can remember Bressmers, Rolands, Barkers, Myer’s Brothers, KMart, Kirlins, The Platter (a record store). I also went to Capitol Q, against my mother’s wishes. We would go to Thrifty’s cafeteria and eat or have a coke.

  35. Heidi:

    I go back a fewmore years than most f you. My father in laww used to have the pit orchestra at the Senate and played music for the silent movies there. I also remember Katsina Resturant in the location before the Osco Drug came in Also remember eating at Strongs Cafeteria in that Block and how about Davess Orange juice across the street where we would go and watch them squeeze it in the window and have those good salted peanuts while you were drinking it

  36. Diane:

    I do believe the place next to conns was Marges little cafe or something. Used to go there all the time. I do miss the old downtown too. It’s not like it used to be. Those sure were the good old days

  37. Sandra (Wilson) Sanders:

    I remember Roy Conn’s. I worked there next door to the Senate and at the cafeteria on the other side of the Senate and I got to do some catering too.

    • Toni Hilton Anderson:

      Sandra (Wilson) Sanders!! Funny meeting you here on this page talking about good ol days working at Roy Conn’s…….our first job and lots of fun (especially wrapping silverware at the Cafeteria upstairs!) I sure do miss those days and I miss Roy Conn!! I have another post above talking about this before I found this comment from you….how odd!? I remember Marge of course, Mike Maderi (?), mother used to call him “Little Bit”, Doris and of course Brent! My first date…..Brent Conn, and he picked me up in the old Catering Truck and we went to go see John Davidson in concert at the fairgrounds!! Dang…..what good memories of the late 60’s!

  38. Bill:

    Does any one remember the Buck a Throw Picture Show there at the Senate in the early 70s.
    It was shown at midnite. We all used to get stoned and try to watch the show. ha ha it was way too funny!! Does anyone remember Gary McCray?

  39. Jim Barrett:

    Boy from the comments above, I will really show my age…I remember the Booty Shoe Store on the corner of 5th st and Nick’s Hat & shoe shine stand, then Roy Conn’s-the Senate-Strong’s Cafertia- Dr Fults Office- Gift Shop(can’t remember name)and then Ballwicks Lounge.

  40. mike brennan:

    i saw the beatles a hard days night movie there with my buddies. wow! must have been 12 years old.

  41. John LaTessa:

    Wow, I’ve never seen this before. I WORKED at the Senate Theater when this picture was taken and I’m the one who put the words up on the marquee. Exploring all the nooks and crannies of that building used to be tons of fun!


  42. I believe that was called the Bootery Shoe store. My Mom used to get her waitress shoes there. My mom waitressed at The Georgian on South Grand and 9th for Fritz Havrilka. Also at Tops Big Boy, Fritz’s on the Mall, Fritx’z Wagon Wheel on Wabash and Fritz’s Par-A-Dice Restaurant on McArthur. Her name is Nellie.

  43. Mike Brunner:

    I miss downtown. I remember seeing many movies at the Senate when I was a kid. Halloween scared the crap out of me, lol. I also saw Grease multiple times and Friday the 13th in 3D and once they had an old Vincent Price film in 3D, I’m sure it was the original House of Wax. I was disappointed when they converted the balcony into a 2nd screen. One of the last movies I saw there in the balcony was Love at First Bite. I was a freshman in high school when the Senate closed and there is a photo in our yearbook of some students that worked there. I remember there was also the Roxy and the Lincoln theater too. I always wondered why there were two Thrifty drug stores within a block of each other. My grandmother worked downtown and I would meet her for lunch sometimes. What great memories. Still wish we had a movie theater downtown, I remember my mom telling me stories about the Orpheum and how big and grand it was.

  44. Joe Ushman:

    I think I saw my first 3D movie at the senate. Mid 50’s. May have been the first time to show 3D in Spfld. Can anyone help me remember for sure.

  45. louie giordano:

    Joe I think you are right about that 3D movie.The little white building was Dr. Fults optomitristoffice

  46. Shirley:

    The first 3D movie was House of Wax with Vincent Price and Phyllis Kirk (I think), and it was in the early to mid 50’s. However, I think it was shown at the Roxy — or maybe the Lincoln. It’s so sad to see all those theaters gone — especially the Orpheum. I remember as a little girl attending opening night at the Roxy around 1950. They showed The West Point Story with James Cagney, Gordon MacRae, Doris Day, and Gene Nelson.

  47. Mike:

    I remember going to see “Patton” in 1970 with my parents when I was 14 at the Senate. I sat in the balcony alone, while my parents sat below. There was a couple in front of me that was making out during the entire movie. Learned a lot that night, but not about Patton.

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