The old often has to make room for the new and Springfield is no exception. There are many sites around the city which have been demolished or renovated to make room for a new building, but even though their physical form is gone, it doesn’t get rid of the memories they provide.
We asked readers on our Facebook page which historic Springfield sites they missed. Here are a few locations they said invoke the most memories.
1. North High School
Gone, but not forgotten, North High School was the home of the Panthers. Hope Ware remembers the sporting events which took place there fondly.
“I just miss it,” she wrote. “Would love to be able to take my kids to a game and hear the Panthers fight song, just one more time.”
North HS had a history in Ohio sports, as the 1977 girl’s basketball team became the state champions. Most notably, North was also where Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter John Legend attended high school in his youth.
The school merged with South High School to become Springfield High School in 2008. The old building was demolished in May of that year to make room for the new school. The old South High School building, commonly known as The Dome, now hosts the CareerConnectED Center and the John Legend Theater.
2. Memorial Hall
The Clark County Memorial Building, better known as Memorial Hall, is another historic spot people pine for.
The building, which still stands at the corner of Main Street and Lowry Avenue, has been part of the city since 1916. In the past, the building served as an auditorium and played host to concerts, trade shows and many other events. Between 1926 and 1985, the site also served as the home of the Clark County Historical Society.
A levy to restore the building failed in 1985 and ultimately shuttered that year due to deterioration.
3. The Arcade
The Arcade, which was located on South Fountain Avenue in downtown Springfield, was the site of more history than most people realize. Springfield’s Arcade was the second-oldest arcade in the nation when it still stood, originally constructed in 1882 by O.S. Kelly. The site served as a focal point for the city and included a 115-room hotel.
By the 1970s, it contained office space, as well as hot spots such as the Capri Club. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
A number of problems regarding its upkeep caused the building to close and it was demolished in 1988. Today, a Courtyard by Marriott Hotels stands on the site.
4. The Frostop Root Beer Stand
This iconic shop opened its first location in Springfield back in 1926. The current building, which was constructed in 1955, functioned as many different businesses once the stand shut down in 2011, including an antique store and an ice cream parlor. Frostop still has drive-ins dotted around the country, though the closest to Springfield is in Tell City, Ind.
The building, located on South Charleston Pike, has functioned as a nursery and drive-thru since 2015. They still sell Frostop drinks, if you can’t make it to Indiana.
5. Wren’s Department Store
Wren’s has a history which has taken it places inside Springfield’s city limits. Originally, Wren’s history first started in 1877, when it was a dry goods store located in what’s now known as the Commercial Building on South Limestone Street. In 1903, it moved to the Johnson Building on East High Street, where it became Springfield’s first department store. The Wren family sold the store in 1920.
In 1939, Wren’s moved to the Bushnell Building and remained locally owned until 1952 when it was acquired by Allied Stores. The store merged with the William H. Block Company in 1984 and took on the name Block’s that year. It closed three years later in 1987.
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Today, the Bushnell Building holds the Bushnell Banquet Center. The site has a room dedicated to Wren’s founder Edward Wren.
6. Upper Valley Mall Cinema 5
This Springfield staple served the community for almost 50 years. The movie theater provided Springfield mall goers with the opportunity to see the latest film until the screens went dark in 2017. Chakeres Theaters Inc., who operated the theater, said declining foot traffic at the mall forced the company to shut it down. The Melody Cruise-In on East National Road was also forced to close permanently due to management costs in 2016.
7. Riverdale Dairy Farm
This bygone farm had a lot to offer in days past. According to records from the Historical Society, Riverdale Dairy Farm may have opened in 1935 and played a large part in the daily life of downtown Springfield. Many people fondly remember the butter brickle ice cream the farm used to sell. Records show the farm closed down in the 1980s. The founder, Paul Gram, passed away in 1995.
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