History & Architecture

Pasfield Family History Emphasizing George Jr.
(long version)

The Pasfields were one of the most productive and influential families during the first 100 years of Springfield. All three George Pasfields lived in the glow of the state capitol dome on the family estate which has recently designated as a historic area. The 1896 Pasfield House remains on the site which has been remarkably restored by Tony Leone. Recently described by the State Journal-Register as a city showplace the former Pasfield family residence has become one of Springfield’s architectural treasures.

The first George Pasfield to arrive in Springfield assisted Abraham Lincoln and “the long nine” in having the state capital relocated from Vandalia to Springfield. He was a driving force in underwriting the bond required to secure the move. The elder Pasfield served on the town board before the City of Springfield was incorporated, leading efforts in town improvements concerning streets and fire equipment. He sat on committees with Lincoln to see railroads would pass through the town and was one of the first merchants to establish business on the old state house square.

Pasfield’s son, Dr. George Pasfield built upon his father’s success. “City’s wealthiest man and personal friend of Lincoln” appeared as the news headline upon his death. An “owner of the most valuable property in the city”, Pasfield was a public-spirited citizen, a surgeon during civil war times, and a prominent member in the organization of the 1908 Lincoln Centennial Association. Pasfield, joined leading local businessmen like the Bunn brothers, co-founding two nationally known industries, the Springfield Iron Company and the Illinois Watch Company, changing the city’s employment and attributing to the urbanization and rapid growth in its early years. A November 30, 1916 editorial states: “There was seldom a worthy enterprise that was for the improvement of his town which he did not assist morally and financially... When others saw Springfield destined to remain a country village, Dr. Pasfield saw clearer.”

Following the family tradition of commitment to make Springfield the state capital, George Pasfield, Jr. served as president of the Capitol Grounds Purchase Association whose purpose was to enlarge the State House Site. Doubling the Capitol grounds, erecting the Centennial Memorial Building and later the State Armory, Pasfield put an end to any further attempts to move the State Capital away from Springfield. He was also prominent in Springfield banking circles, managing his family’s expansive real estate interests and joining with other local businessmen to rebuild the Leland Hotel which had been destroyed by a fire in 1908. During a public parks scandal, Pasfield answered the call to run for elective office. The Illinois State Journal’s endorsement stated, “He is no politician, he is the one type of businessman in who the people can afford to repose implicit confidence in public office.” In the years led by Pasfield the Springfield Park District made possibly its biggest expansion benefiting all sections of the City. Pasfield Park and Golf Course is named in his honor.

The Pasfield legacy is today recognized locally in various ways 1) the signage located through out the Pasfield House Historic Area, the estate where all three Pasfields once lived; 2) the hundred year old three-story Georgian mansion which still remains upon the site; 3) the oldest established golf grounds in the City which was re-dedicated in honor of a Pasfield; 4) several prominent downtown buildings in what was once referred to as the Pasfield Block, one still imprinted with “Pasfield” at its peak; and 5) by the street just west of the Capitol bearing the family’s name. Such recognition reflects the Pasfields genuine dedication to Springfield.