Categories
Pillsbury History

Springfield Bowling Nostalgia

Friends,

In the early years of the Springfield Pillsbury Bowling League, the basement lanes at the Orpheum downtown were home.  Many teams competed throughout the season.  In later years, after the Orpheum’s demise in 1965, Spillway Lanes became home for the league until 1984 when fire destroyed the building.  

Pillsbury Bowling League 1948
Pillsbury Bowling League 1948

Many thanks to the family of Ernest “Ernie” Philmon (Pillsbury employee for 42 years, and League Secretary for many years) for sharing a bit of great local memorabilia with us.  The guys on the 1948 “Bohemian Rye” team sure made it look fun…even with their button up shirts and ties!

For more information on local bowling establishments visit the Greater Springfield Bowling Archives website:

https://gsbarchives.com/bowling-centers/bc_history/

Thanks for being a part of this important community project.

~ Team Pillsbury

Pillsbury Bowling League 1948 - Bohemian Rye Team
Pillsbury Bowling League 1948 – Bohemian Rye Team
Categories
News Pillsbury History

A Tale of Two Water Towers

Friends,

The existing water tower at the former Springfield Pillsbury plant sits at a height of 210 feet atop the AB-Mill just as it has since 1929 when the building was constructed. A second water tower was added at the plant atop the C-Mill sometime between 1955 and 1965.  The height was about 40 feet shorter, but it matched the look of the original almost perfectly. Many people in Springfield remember the days when both water towers stood at the plant as beacons of our manufacturing strength. 

Click on an image above to see full size.

The water towers served two primary purposes. On-site storage of water at elevation created the necessary head pressure in the water lines below for both manufacturing processes and for fire sprinkler systems in the buildings. The on-site storage also allowed for continuous workflow if water service was disrupted due to water main breaks or short outages at the city water plant.

As the Springfield Pillsbury plant rapidly expanded in size during the late 1940’s and into the early 1960’s, a second water tower became necessary.  Expansions during the late 50’s and early 60’s included the massive Warehouse #9 (now removed), the Turbo and Bulk Storage Buildings (attached to the South side of the AB-Mill) and the 8180 Building (now removed from the west side of the C-Mill).

Pillsbury water tower top ball from C Mill.
Pillsbury water tower top ball from C Mill.

When the former Pillsbury/Cargill plant was sold for scrap in 2008, the water tower atop the C-Mill was cut into pieces and recycled for the value of its metal.  This happened sometime between 2008 and 2013.  Recently, however, the discovery of the top ball from the water tower was found on a 4th floor roof at the plant.  It had apparently been cut off during the scrap operation and dropped onto the roof.  There it laid for over 10 years.  Now, it is part of the MPF collection.

MPF is often asked: Can we save the remaining AB-Mill Water Tower?  The reasonable answer, unfortunately, is no.  MPF has consulted multiple demolition professionals, and it simply is too large to bring down in one piece.  Dismantling, lowering down, relocating, and reassembling the water tower would be a costly addition to an already dauntingly large project of demolition and renewal at the 18-acre site.

So…Where does this leave us?  MPF is still working on the best alternative to saving the AB-Mill Water Tower.  At a minimum, we have it well documented in photographs.  And perhaps we can save the top ball and display it with its matching younger sibling.  We are currently open to ideas.  Please, give us your best constructive considerations on reasonable alternatives. 

Thanks for being a part of this important community project.

~ Team Pillsbury

Categories
News Pillsbury History

Pillsbury Preservation Photography

Friends,

Moving PIllsbury Forward engaged in a preservation photography project shortly after we were able to take possession of the former Pillsbury site in March of 2022.  After we spent the bulk of 2022 clearing the site grounds of unwanted vegetation and debris, we began taking a series of high-resolution exterior photos.  With good sightlines open for the first time in years, this was the best opportunity we would have to capture the site and structures in their fullest before they are gone.  

The complete series of  photos will eventually be archived and made available within an accessible public institution.  They are of archival quality and are being prepared at this time with appropriate descriptive captions.  Thanks is due here to many community members, primarily former employees, for helping us understand and accurately describe what we were seeing.  With your help, we are building a photo archive that honors the history of the plant and Springfield manufacturing in general.  It is yet another aspect of the Pillsbury Project that is community centered and focused on getting the job done as right as we reasonably can. 

Thanks for being a part of this important community project.

~ Team Pillsbury

Ben Halpern prepares to take Pillsbury preservation photo of east wall of 1929 built Warehouse #4 as seen Dec.2, 2022, just a month prior to its demolition due to instability.
Ben Halpern prepares to take Pillsbury preservation photo of east wall of 1929 built Warehouse #4 as seen Dec.2, 2022, just a month prior to its demolition due to instability.
Categories
News Pillsbury History

Introducing: Pillsburied

Artistic and historic aspects of the Pillsbury site.

Friends,

Moving PIllsbury Forward is pleased to announce that our art and history coordinator/curator, Robert Mazrim, has created a new web location to explore the artistic and historic aspects of the Pillsbury site.  Yes…these aspects of the Pillsbury Project have taken on a life of their own!  Well done Robert – thank you for being such a talented and enthusiastic partner in this unique journey!

https://www.fossilaerosol.com/pillsburiedhome

And…please know that we are still working diligently through the review process so that buildings can be fully remediated and demolished in the coming months.  Our final round of historic site tours will likely be in April…stay tuned.

Thank you for being a part of this important community project!

~ Team Pillsbury

Categories
News Pillsbury History

Pillsbury Project Online Video Listing

Friends,

Many of us are stuck inside with the cold weather this weekend.  Now may be a good time to view a few Springfield Pillsbury videos.

The Springfield Pillsbury site has several videos that can be readily found on-line.  Many were produced prior to Moving Pillsbury Forward acquiring the property.  Others were produced afterwards but without permission.  The first four on the list were produced as a part of the Pillsbury Project.  The remaining videos are worth a look as well.  They help demonstrate just how far we have come with the project.

Have a warm day!

~ Team Pillsbury

Moving Pillsbury Forward video presentation from August 2022. 
Locally produced award-winning video by The Storyteller Studios.  6-Minutes

https://thestorytellerstudios.com/2022/11/09/moving-pillsbury-forward/

Illinois Stories with Mark McDonald
2022 episode 06.  This piece was shot in May 2022. 27-Minutes

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&ei=UTF-8&p=Illinois+stories+Pillsbury&type=E210US739G0#id=1&vid=ac3a6525b3d3a4f84d37cb7cd1034e05&action=click

Muddy River Gems with Mark McDonald
Jan. 2024.  This piece was shot in November 2023. 34-Minutes

MUDDY RIVER GEMS: SPRINGFIELD’S PILLSBURY MILLS PLANT

Blaise Aerials
(Springfield area drone services) 4-minute video from August 2023

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&ei=UTF-8&p=springfield+pillsbury+blaise+aerials&type=E210US739G0#id=1&vid=f754b4927507e3a40dffab837eadccd1&action=click

Lost Vlog. 
7 minutes.  Good quality.  Well done with some drone and great still photos.  Pre-2022 

Drone and walk-through with narration.
23 minutes.  Very high quality.  (S. Illinois trip Part 2) Pre-2022

drone video
4-minute posted 8/5/22 (unknown videographer).  The video was shot in early summer of 2022.

All drone footage.
3 minutes.  July 2020.  Well done. 

UrbEx video 
6 minutes.  Low quality.  A & B Mill footage.  Pre-2022

https://youtu.be/REPlJDRs9rs

Good quality with drone footage. 
17 minutes.  Dave and Jeff…crazy silo and water tank climb.  Pre-2022

Taylor Moore LLCC project.   
4 minutes.  2017.  Good history.

Part II of Exploring The Abandoned Pillsbury Factory
 30-minutes Posted July 30, 2022

Categories
Pillsbury History

The Communicator – Department of the Month, 1968

Friends,

The Springfield Pillsbury plant was so much more than just flour milling.  The local company newsletter was known as The Communicator.  Over the course of several months in 1968, the newsletter had a section that highlighted each department (see attached document).  The descriptions are full of visuals and information about the plant.  Reading through each section gives us a broad understanding of how the plant functioned and what was produced 55 years ago.  It’s hard to believe just how many products the plant made and shipped throughout the world.

Download the PDF of The Communicator…

Special thanks to Carol Kulek for finding this great nugget of local history and making it available to us.  

Happy Holidays

~ Team Pillsbury

Categories
Pillsbury History

Springfield Safety Circle: December 1955 Newsletter

Friends,

The Springfield Safety Circle was a monthly newsletter for the Springfield Pillsbury employees and their families.  The December 1955 cover page gives us a taste of the times. 

The top graphic showing the Springfield Plant as a ship is an interesting visual.  The artist for the newsletter is Wynn “Wilky” Wilkins and he almost assuredly created this graphic.  He was a local guy that joined the Navy during WWII then went back to work at Pillsbury after he returned.  It captures the feeling of being a part of something big that takes everyone working together.

Christmas turkeys for all eligible employees and retired people.  What a great company gesture for the holiday season.  The distribution was south of the Bakery Mix Dock.  This is the same area where our main entrance is today for tours and events…68 years later.

1161 members of the American Federation of Grain Millers Local #24 turned out for the election of officers on December 1, 1955.  This was during the highest employment period at the Springfield Pillsbury plant.  At that time, total employment peaked at about 1500.  This included the Local #24 members, clerical staff, supervisors, and management team.  The economic impact of the Pillsbury plant for Springfield was enormous.

The annual Pillsbury Hobby Show call for entries is advertised.  We had a local family show us ribbons won at the hobby shows in the mid-1950’s.  With prizes valued at more than $300.00 it is easy to imagine a large number of entries.  If anyone can tell us where the Auditorium was located, please contact MPF, we would be glad to know. 

We hope you enjoy this little piece of Springfield history as much as we have.  Thanks to all the families that have participated in the Pillsbury reunion project this year.  We have had a great time listening to the stories and collecting information.  Stay tuned…more stories will be shared throughout the winter months!

Have a great holiday season!

Team Pillsbury

pillsburyproject.org 

Pillsbury Springfield Safety Circle Newsletter - December 1955 cover
Categories
Pillsbury History

Pillsbury Reunion Project & The Wheat Rush

Friends,

We have had a great response to Tuesdays at the Dock.  We will continue hosting community members and past employees each Tuesday through the end of September.  Open hours are from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.

Employees have come and given us insights into many of the tools and items we have collected.  We have also taken them into the plant on several occasions and walked with them to their old work locations.  It has been a wonderful learning experience and the stories are continuing to come in.  This week we highlight the Wheat Rush.

The Wheat Rush at the Springfield Pillsbury plant was a big deal.  Beginning in early July and lasting for several weeks, grain trucks would come from miles around to deliver wheat to the plant.  The plant held more than 3 million bushels when filled to full capacity.  Each of the 160 silos held 18,000 bushels.  The 108 spaces between the silos held another 1500 bushels each.

Grain trucks would line up along 15th Street for several blocks.  Sometimes, the line of trucks would stretch as far south as Clearlake Ave.  Each truck would get tested, weighed, and dumped on the north side of the plant.  A typical day during the Wheat Rush would see 700-1000 grain trucks unloaded.

The Pillsbury Neighborhood looked forward to the Wheat Rush.  Children in the area would set up lemonade stands.  Sandwiches and snacks were commonly sold to the farmers and truck drivers along with lemonade.  The Wheat Rush was an annual summertime activity that everyone looked forward to being a part of. 

The Reunion Project Team
pillsburyproject.org

PS – we will have Tuesday at the Dock tomorrow.  It is shaded and plenty of water will be available.

Categories
Pillsbury History

Pillsbury Reunion Project Story: Doris

Friends,

Tuesdays at the Dock have been well attended.  We appreciate the great response and plan to enjoy these gatherings from 9:00 to 11:00 each Tuesday through September.

As a result of the Reunion Project, we now know more about the history of the plant than ever before.  We also have a better sense of the lives that were impacted by the activities at the plant.  Mostly good, some not so good, but all certainly worth knowing and sharing.  We hope you will enjoy reading a few of these stories in the coming weeks and months. 

A young lady named Doris is the subject of this Pillsbury story.  She and her siblings were raised in a house on the 1300 block of N. 8th St.  She graduated from Lanphier High School in 1955.  Her first full-time job out of high school was at Pillsbury. 

Doris and her family were members of Third Presbyterian Church (1030 N. 7th St.).  A member of the church, Mr. Edward Palmen, was a Department Manager at Pillsbury.  When she graduated from high school, he helped Doris get a job at Pillsbury.  She worked as a clerk-typist for four years then married and moved on. 

The 1956 City of Springfield directory was used as a reference in verification of the correct spelling for Palmen and for Doris’s job title.  Note: Doris is listed as one of five people working at Pillsbury on that one page of the directory.

The mid-1950’s were the peak employment years for the Springfield Pillsbury plant.  The Bakery and Grocery Mix expansion at the plant occurred in 1949 and that created more jobs.  Goods were still largely being moved within the plant by hand carts.  And the C-Mill was still in operation at this time (it stopped operating in 1964).  Some estimates put the number of Pillsbury employees at 1500 in 1955. 

We have heard several stories now of how people came to work at Pillsbury.  Many have told us they had a family connection or a good friend that recommended them.  This is a tried-and-true method for employment success and Doris’s story is a great example.

The Reunion Project Team
pillsburyproject.org

Categories
Pillsbury History

MPF / Pillsbury Plant Grand Opening in 1930 included a Sangamo Club Reception

The Sunday edition of the Illinois State Register on April 28, 1929 had a frontpage headline that read: “PILLSBURY TO LOCATE BIG MILL HERE”.  Work to build the flour mill began shortly after.  Within a few months, local employees were hired.  In February of 1930 the mill began limited operations as the workers fine-tuned the equipment.

The Sangamo Club hosted the grand opening public reception for the Pillsbury leaders that made their way to Springfield from Minneapolis on the afternoon of May 3, 1930. That same evening, 200 business leaders from Springfield attended a celebratory banquet at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel.
The Sangamo Club. Photo Credit: Moving Pillsbury Forward.

The Sangamo Club hosted the grand opening public reception for the Pillsbury leaders that made their way to Springfield from Minneapolis on the afternoon of May 3, 1930.  That same evening, 200 business leaders from Springfield attended a celebratory banquet at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel.  An excerpt of the Illinois State Register article reads:

“Pillsbury’s Best” merited the city’s best today and Springfield was attired in holiday garb to celebrate the opening of the Pillsbury Plant.  Catching the eye in numerous store windows both downtown and outlying sections of the city were engaging displays of the various Pillsbury food products.  Flags also were displayed.

Several streets were lined with placards of greeting to the Minneapolis delegation and the trails from the business district to the plant were similarly marked.

The Sangamo Club was a part of “the city’s best” for a good long time…just as Pillsbury was.

This week we say farewell to The Sangamo Club…22 years after the last flour was milled at Pillsbury on May 24, 2001.  Each had a good long run and deserves a special place in our Springfield memories.

Chris Richmond
pillsburyproject.org

State Journal-Register: “Sangamo Club to close doors Friday after 133 years”