History & Architecture

20th Century George Pasfield Jr.
with brief Family History

1900's – Pasfield Committed to Springfield Tradition

At the turn of the Twentieth Century the Pasfield Family had become one of the richest in Central Illinois. The Pasfields were early settlers, arriving before the town organized. After becoming the irst merchant to establish on the town square, Pasfield ventured into land speculation acquiring some of the best commercial properties on the public square. Pasfield’s son, Dr George Pasfield expanded the family wealth expediential, even becoming a pioneer industrialist investing in the Illinois Watch Company and Springfield Iron Works. Pasfield real estate holdings consisted of over four thousand acres in Sangamon County alone, before 1904 the United States Government even had a Pasfield Post Office near Berlin in Island Grove Township Property holdings reach to Decatur, and St Louis and in an attempt to repeat the success the Pasfields attained locally Dr Pasfield sent his son Arthur as far west as Kansas City. But it was Dr Pasfield’s namestake George Pasfield Jr. who occupied his own residence at Jackson and Pasfield streets that he built overlooking the family home. Pasfield’s residence was built in a Classical Revival style that was popular after the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. The Historic Pasfield House, as it is referred to today, is a Georgian design popular one hundred years earlier. The structure is exemplified by symmetrical elegance, a contrast to the typical Queen Anne Homes being built at the time. Following in his father’s footsteps he held directorships in several Springfield Banks. Pasfield also managed for his father the expansive real estate interests, including some of Springfield most prominent downtown properties. When the Leland Hotel burned in 1908, fear of losing the Illinois Capital, threatening the downtown economy. George Pasfield Jr. was unanimously elected its president of the newly formed Springfield Hotel Company. Pasfield guided the hotel’s reconstruction using nationally recognized architects and Tiffany of New York City for interior design. The Georgian Style Architecture of the Leland became the most prestigious Illinois hotel other than the Chicago Palmer House. Coincidentally the famous Horseshoe Sandwich was invented at the Leland, a theory exists that Pasfield’s heart disease and early demise may have been a result of too many Leland Horseshoe Lunches. In 1909 Springfield celebrated the Lincoln Centennial. Recognizing the family connection to Abraham Lincoln, George Pasfield Jr. was called upon to participate on the executive committee of the Lincoln Centennial Association. Pasfield’s father was seated at the “friends of Lincoln” table during the first event. On the executive committee the younger Pasfield sat at the speakers table. The elder Pasfield’s was recently highlighted in a book on Lincoln Contemporaries.

1910's – Pasfield Celebrates Illinois Centennial

In 1917 newly elected Park Board President, George Pasfield Jr., endorsed a plan to purchase of “the block of land adjacent to the Lincoln Homestead for a public park, and the improvement of Capitol Avenue from the park to the Capitol grounds, as a park boulevard”. Earlier that year, Pasfield was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Illinois Centennial Commission. Pasfield one of four individuals from Springfield, chaired several committees of the eighteen person board, whose purpose was to guide the celebration of one hundred years of statehood. The official Illinois Centennial was held at the Capitol on October 4-6, 1918. The celebration featured a number of speeches by dignitaries and was highlighted by the dedication of the Stephan Douglas and Abraham Lincoln statues on the capitol grounds. The Commission published in 1818 a five volume Centennial Memorial History of Illinois, still considered a valuable resource used by historians to this day. The Commission also contributed to the Centennial Half Dollar by the US Mint, featuring an image of a young Lincoln and the state seal of Illinois. Earlier in 1915, the Illinois Legislature decided to construct a building to commemorate the anniversary. At the time the State Capitol Building was overcrowded and attempts were being made to relocate the State Capital. At the time Pasfield must have sensed a new building could help Springfield retain the Illinois Capitol. Pasfield took on the responsibility to lead a citizens group in soliciting the Springfield citizens and businesses. As president of the Capitol Grounds Purchase Association, Pasfield helped raised enough needed for acquiring the grounds to the south of the Capitol and moving the homes located there. Transcripts of the legislative procedures show George Pasfield, Jr. appearing alongside Frank Reisch, Jr. and D.W. Smith to accept the obligation of Springfild citizens raising the needed funds “the practice of 78 years standing. From the year 1837 to the present day we have contributed liberally towards every improvement. made in Springfield by the State of Illinois.” The Pasfield and Bunn Families made the two of the largest donations received by the Association and the Centennial Building’s cornerstone laid on October 5, 1918, fifty years from the date of laying the State Capitol cornerstone became part of the official celebration. The colonnade structure in Federalist Style boldly displays an engraving across the front proclaiming “TO COMMEMORATE THE ADMISSION OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS INTO THE FEDERAL UNION “. Upon completion, the Centennial Building housed government offices, the Illinois State Historical Library, the Illinois State Museum, and proudly displayed the state’s collection of battle flags. It eased the crowing in the Capitol and according to many, ended further talk of moving the capital from Springfield.

1920's – Pasfield Dedicated to Community Growth

George Pasfield Jr. the executor of his father’s estate was keenly interested in keeping Springfield flourishing; in 1924 he became a charter member of the Sangamon County Community Foundation providing needed funds to local charities. By the 20’s.the Springfield residents consisted of second generation families of earlier pioneers and first generation immigrants looking for the American Dream. No longer living the life of early settlers, residents now had time for leisure activities. Pasfield ceased the Park Board Presidency, to opened the Parks for all families to enjoy free time. Pasfield ordered street lamps and phones in Washington and Lincoln Parks, constructed 12 new tennis courts, and several new ball diamonds, a new field house, and beach at Bunn Park. The Park Board added hundreds of acres including acquiring Reservoir Park. The Board purchased more than 26 acres for use in conjunction with Lincoln Park and over 430 acres at Carpenter Park. The Board undertook improving and maintaining the State Fair. Pasfield constructed Memorial Stadium at Reservoir Park, starting the conversion to Lanphier High School. Pasfield wasn’t easily labeled, he allowed ball games on Sunday. in Lincoln Park. Sunday Games were traditionally prohibited in all the city parks because families would visit and picnic in Oak Ridge Cemetery on the Sabbath. One of the more amusing policy issues, Pasfield stopped a dance from being held at Bergen Park, similarly Pasfield’s Board prohibited the playing of cards at Bunn Park considering it a disreputable activity. George Pasfield Jr. was honored by being the namesake for Pasfield Park, formerly Illini Country Club. At Harvard University, Pasfield and his classmates picked up the game and first played organized golf at the same site. George Pasfield, Jr. ran as the district’s president amidst a financial debacle, the former board was reputedly close to eighty thousand dollars in debt. The Illinois State Journal labeled the opposition as a tool of Springfield Machine Politics editorializing, “Springfield’s parks should not be put under the control of any politician, to be exploited by him and his political associates. A vote for the New Board ticket will be a vote against political domination of the parks.” The Illinois Journal further advised, “The so-called People’s Ticket, while it contains the names of some good men, is primarily the ticket of “Charlie” McBride. Its success will mean McBride domination of the public park system. And for that reason, if for no other, the People’s ticket ought to be defeated…A vote for the New Board ticket will be a vote against political domination of the parks.”