WALKING TOUR

[Note: This online walking tour is currently under construction. Please click on the link to the tour on Google Maps (below) for a full version.]

A Walking Tour of the Lincoln Place Neighborhood in Granite City, Illinois. Celebrating 100 Year Anniversary, 1916-2016, for the naming of Lincoln Place.  

The Lincoln Place walking tour is a 1.24 mile visit to the public buildings of the historic Lincoln Place neighborhood. There is ample street parking available near the Lincoln Place Community Center at 822 Niedringhaus Avenue.

Click here to see the Lincoln Place walking tour in Google Maps

Directions to Lincoln Place
From St. Louis, Missouri, Interstate 70: From St. Louis, Missouri take I-70 W towards Kansas City.  Stay on I-70 W for 2.3 miles and take EXIT 248A towards Salisbury Street. Take a slight left on North 9th Street for 0.1 miles.  Take a slight right onto McKinley Bridge crossing into Illinois. Take a slight left onto IL-3 North.  Finally take a right onto Niedringhaus Avenue, continue until 822 Niedringhaus Avenue. Street parking is available.

From Edwardsville, Illinois,  Interstate 270: From Edwardsville, Illinois take I-270 W towards St. Charles, Missouri.  Stay on I-270 for 9.2 miles. Exit at IL-3 South, Exit 3A. Follow IL- South for 5.8 miles. Turn left onto Niedringhaus Avenue, continue until 822 Niedringhaus Avenue.  Street parking is available.

1. Begin your walking tour at the Lincoln Place Community Center (822 Niedringhaus Avenue)

Lincoln Place Community Center 2016

Lincoln Place Community Center 2016

 

The Lincoln Place Community Center, known as “The Community House” or “The Clubhouse” to those who lived in Lincoln Place, was built in 1921 and quickly became the focus of the Lincoln Place neighborhood. Commonwealth Steel, owned by General Steel Corporation, was interested in helping the many immigrants who lived in Lincoln Place and worked at the Commonwealth plant to become Americanized and to provide some services to its employees and their families. As a result, the executives at Commonwealth Steel offered to supply the design skills and the materials for a community center in Lincoln Place if the men from the neighborhood would provide the labor. People who lived in Lincoln Place during that time tell of remembering how the men would arrive home from their shifts and would go to the Community House site to lend their skills to the construction of the building which would become known to everyone as “The Community House.”
DSCF2463

As the men worked, the women from all over the neighborhood would cook foods and pastries and bring them to the Community House where long boards were placed on saw horses to serve as tables.

Everyone ate together, worked together, and visited, while the children played and watched their future “Clubhouse” rise from the mud. This collective effort bonded everyone together and helped them learn about each other’s cultures, languages, foods, and families. When the building was completed, Commonwealth Steel hired Miss Sophie Prather to supervise the building and to develop and implement the many programs which would be offered to the neighborhood families. Mr. Howard was hired to teach the boys vocational woodworking and ladies from the Methodist Church uptown offered the Bible School in the summer, but everyone says that it was Miss Prather who was the real driving force behind the classes, plays, and sewing classes, as well as the athletic activities that were offered to both the boys and girls. There was basketball in the gym, softball in the playground, Sunday school classes, citizenship classes for the adults, and a myriad of other activities.DSCF2469

As the children grew older, some of them, such as Miss Alice and Miss Josephine, became teachers themselves, working alongside Miss Prather, educating another generation of Lincoln Place children.

2. From the Community Center, walk west on Niedringhaus Avenue. The empty lot on the south side of Niedringhaus Avenue was once home to Chris’s Bakery, a well-known shop in Lincoln Place.

Lincoln Place Bakery Site

The site where Chris’s Bakery once stood

3. Baptist Mission

Church

4. As you continue walking west on Niedringhaus Avenue, you will see an entrance marker to the Lincoln Place neighborhood on the south side of the street near the intersection of Niedringhuas and Highway 3.

Lincoln Place Entrance Marker

This marker welcomes visitors to the Lincoln Place neighborhood

5. If you look west from the intersection of Niedringhaus Avenue and Highway 3, you will see the former site of the Army Depot.

6. Cross to the north side of Niedringhaus Avenue. Antique Store

7. Continue walking east on Niedringhaus Aveune. Dry Goods Store

8. Turn left (north) on Spruce Street and walk two blocks. At the northwest corner of Spruce Street and St. Louis Avenue you will see the Magyar-Haz/Hungarian Meeting House.

Magyar Haz

Hungarian home cornerstone

9. Turn right (east) on St. Louis Avenue and walk one block. Turn right (south) on Maple Avenue. Halfway down the block, on the east side of the street, you will find the present day King of Kings Pentecostal Church.

Bulgarian church

This was the first Bulgarian Orthodox church built in North America, serving the large population of Bulgarian and Macedonian families who lived in Lincoln Place. The church served as the focal point for the religious and cultural events of the Bulgarian and Macedonian Orthodox families in the Lincoln Place neighborhood for many decades. Its architectural style reflects the basic structure of typical Eastern Orthodox churches in the old country, with the altar at the back of the church and side chapels that extend from the central portion of the church.  Ultimately, when the Bulgarian community built a newer Eastern Orthodox church in another part of town, the church in Lincoln Place was sold to Lincoln Place’s Armenian community. With modifications to accommodate the Armenian Orthodox religious requirements, the church continued to be used as an Armenian Orthodox church until the Armenians also built a newer church in another part of Granite City. At that time the church was sold to a Pentecostal religious group.

10. Continue walking south on Maple Avenue. When you reach the intersection of Maple Avenue and Niedringhaus Avenue, (formerly Hungarian Club) will be on the northwest corner. The property was sold to the Armenians and it became an Armenian coffeehouse known as the Hrayr Club. Men came to drink coffee, played card games, like skambil and pinochle, backgammon (tavloo), discussed politics, and socialized in the rooms on the west side. The east side was rented for church dinners, Armenian dances, wedding receptions, and social and political events.

11. Turn left (east) on Niedringhaus Avenue and walk until you reach the present day Garden Gate Tea Room, 839 Niedringhaus Ave.  The lot located east of this business was the Vartan’s Market, family-owned and operated grocery store, which served the Lincoln Place neighborhood. To the west of the Garden Gate Tea Room where the Enchanted Cottage now stands was located Weizer Tile Company.

12. Continue walking east on Niedringhaus Avenue.  Sim’s Place Pool Hall

13. Tavern

14. Continue walking east on Niedringhaus Avenue (crossing Chestnut Street). At 935 Niedringhaus Ave. is Ernie and Annie’s Tavern.

15. Commonwealth Steel

The Commonwealth Steel Plant was where may of the men from Lincoln Place worked, often as core makers and laborers. The steel plant was the main attraction for the variety of immigrants moving to the small town of Granite City. The steady paychecks available at the Commonwealth Steel Plant–though they were often fairly small–helped immigrant workers fulfill their aspirations in America. Though the plant has closed, its industrial infrastructure remains reminding the residents of Lincoln Place of the steel mill’s prominent role in the construction of the neighborhood.

16. Boarding House

The boarding house at the corner of Niedringhaus and Walnut Street is a remnant from the early times in the history of Lincoln Place when most of the inhabitants of the neighborhood were unmarried immigrant men looking for work. The building has now been razed, its existence in Lincoln Place is a reminder that there were numerous boarding houses in the neighborhood. They housed the hundreds of immigrant men who flocked to Lincoln Place following stories of a paycheck to be had in the many factories that once filled the city. Today, the building stands empty, but in years gone by several shift workers would rent a room, one group sleeping while the other worked, and then switching as one shift returned to sleep and the other went to work.  This was a classic example of what historians call “the hot bed,” which was characteristic of many industrial cities throughout the United States in the early 1900s.

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Published on April 14, 2011 at 11:36 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] also found myself inspired by the walking tour that some of my fellow classmates created for the Lincoln Place Heritage Group. I love the idea of putting something together that can be accessed and followed by simply using […]

  2. The entry for Stop 10: “10. Continue walking south on Maple Avenue. When you reach the intersection of Maple Avenue and Niedringhaus Avenue, the former Hungarian Club will be on the northwest corner.” is incorrect. This was the location of an Armenian offeehouse and a local chapter of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, with rental apartments upstairs.

  3. I worked at Commonwealth in 1952 as a helper on the milling machine that milled the M40 Patton tank. Hard work but good pay for a 22 yr. old.I lost 30 lbs .in the year I was there.GM got the contract I was told and I was laid off and went to work for McDonnell Aircraft. It was a great learing expierence.

  4. I worked at Commonwealth 1964-65 right out of high school as a laborer in the Core Room. In the year I was there, I must have shoveled tons of sand and cut miles of steel rods. I worked swing shit 7 to 3 and 3 to 11. As I recall.. it was something like $2.20 an hour, but it paid the monthly payments on my car with a little left over for weekend entertainment.


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