This week on our Facebook page we shared a photo to see if anyone could identify the location in Springfield.
We had quite a few good guesses and several guesses that were correct! Coincidentally, the photo that we submitted to the Springfield News-Sun newspaper for Monday’s “Looking Back” photo was a photo from the same disaster file: the 1886 Flood.
The photo we shared on Facebook showed Eastern School, located at the corner of E. High Street and Penn Street following the collapse of the E. High Street Bridge on May 12, 1886. Around 6:30pm on May 12, 1886 “ominous storm clouds” gathered and delivered a deluge of rain to the city of Springfield. By midnight “the wrath of waters” had flooded streets and homes throughout the eastern and southeastern parts of the city. A drainage sewer on York Street burst in the early hours of the morning, causing the water to surge more, creating a raging torrent beneath the E. High Street bridge, which eventually gave way as the embankment below washed away, leaving behind the destruction seen here.
The eastern part of the Eastern School yard closest to the railroad had washed away and it was feared that continued use of the building would be unsafe. There were a few emergency meetings with the School Board and consultation with local architects F.H. Penfield and Charles A. Cregar (he designed the City Hall/Marketplace/Heritage Center in 1890). Although the architects assured the board that the building was sound, on May 15, 1888 the Board voted to “forever abandon the building” and distribute the pupils throughout the city to other schools. A new Eastern School was built in 1887 farther up on the south side of E. High near Freeman Street (across from current Catholic Central), it was later known as McKinley School.
It is not clear exactly when the original Eastern School building was torn down, but it sat abandoned for a number of years. Later, the Centennial Cabin, a replica of James Demint’s cabin, was moved to that site. The Centennial Cabin was built for the 1901 centennial of the city of Springfield and was originally located at the county fairgrounds on Yellow Springs Street. During the centennial celebrations the cabin was open as a museum run by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The following pictures show the site of the bridge collapse, more photos of the May 1886 flood from our Disaster Collection in the archives and the Centennial Cabin in 1901, 1943, and 1975.
May 12-25, 1886 Springfield Daily Republic
Photograph Category – Residential – City – A-L – Centennial Cabin
Photograph Category – Disasters – May 12, 1886 Flood
Education Category – Springfield City Schools – Eastern School
Springfield City Directories