Everywhere we go, history is in front of us. From centuries-old buildings, to the familiar stories told and retold by residents, we’re constantly surrounded by the knowledge of what came before us.
Visiting or living in Downtown Springfield means being surrounded by some of the most impressive historical spots in the city. It’s not a challenge to take a day and immerse yourself in Springfield MO History.
The next time you’re downtown, consider stopping by some of these spots and explore our favorite historical sites in Springfield MO.
Right off the Square
No part of Downtown Springfield is as vital and iconic as Park Central Square. The history of this key landmark of Downtown is captured in a marker on the south side of the square: a bronze book that tells the story of the area. It notes the beginning of the city of Springfield in 1835 through the Civil War and even mentions the square’s dedication as a pedestrian plaza.
Park Central Square is also remembered in history for being the location of the duel between Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt, a dispute some say became the inspiration for Wild West shooting matches. You can step right into history by finding the marker on the square that notes the point where Davis Tutt fell to the ground after being shot by Wild Bill over a gambling debt.
Stop by for a Show
Checking out a musical or concert while you’re Downtown? Learn about the history of some of the major venues in town before you stop by:
- The Gillioz. This historic theatre was founded along Route 66 and has been home to all kinds of performances. Opened in 1926, the theatre was known for being home to many famous movies of the time. Unfortunately, the economic decline of the 70s led to the closure of the theatre. With a fundraising campaign that ignited in the 1990s, the venue was able to reopen in 2006 and still features incredible acts today.
- Shrine Mosque. Founded in 1923, this theatre is especially notable for being the 2nd largest stage at the time of its creation, only behind the New York Metropolitan Opera Theatre. The Shrine Mosque has hosted famed names like Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and more.
- The Landers Theatre. This theatre opened in 1909 with a showing of the classic musical The Golden Girl. It went from showing vaudeville and tabloid shows in its beginning years to showing movies and musicals. In 1934, Springfield Little Theatre was founded and is still housed at Landers. Currently, Springfield Little Theatre makes up the “oldest, largest civic theatre operat[ing] in Missouri.”
Brush Up on Your History
You can’t mention Springfield MO history without mentioning History Museum on the Square. This museum offers six permanent galleries that capture the history of Springfield, from the pioneer days to a history of transportation in the city. They also feature rotating exhibits and educational trunk shows so you can bring history to a group near you.
To visit the museum, stop by from 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. If you’re already downtown for Art Walk, be sure to stop by for free admission!
Live in a Piece of the Past
Downtown Springfield offers you the opportunity to not just view the history around you but to live in it as well. Many loft apartments downtown were previously warehouses, stores, or other buildings that have been converted into living spaces.
For instance, The Central Shoe and Leather Company, a beautiful brick building built in the late 1800s, is now home to Central Shoe lofts. The Seville Hotel, a famed hotel on Walnut Street, lives a new life as the Seville Lofts.
These lofts around Downtown offer unique architecture with antique charm for those who want to be surrounded by the history of the city, along with opportunity to decorate in a way that reflects the one-of-a-kind history of your loft.
If you want to live right in the heart of the history of Springfield, contact Springfield Lofts. We’d love to match you with a loft apartment that suits your needs.