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Spring 2024 Tour Dates: 4/6 and 4/13

Friends,

Moving Pillsbury Forward will host Spring tours on Saturday April 6th at noon and 2pm and again on Saturday April 13th at noon and 2pm.

These are anticipated to be the last two days of guided historic tours on site. As in the past, the tours are FREE and Open to the Public. Tours begin in our south dock entrance (at the corner of 16th St. & Phillips Ave.) Tours last about one hour with several stops and photo opportunities within and around several buildings. The tours are on a generally level concrete surface but sturdy shoes or boots are still recommended.  Last Fall our tour guests ranged in age from 2 to 90 years old…everyone is welcome to attend! No reservations are necessary.  There is ample parking in our south lot and along 15th St.

The guided tours have a focus on the historic Pillsbury Era at the site. Many former Pillsbury employees have been interviewed this past year. They have generously shared their knowledge of the site so that it could be shared with tour guests during the tours.  Yes…tour guests will also see a good bit of quality street art/graffiti. Our resident artists have been busy!

Engraved “Pillsbury” bricks will be available ($20).  Cash donations for tours are encouraged but not required.  And, micro-pantry food donations will be accepted both tour days. Our Pillsbury Neighborhood micro-pantry has been a great success. 

Thanks for being a part of this important community project.

~ Team Pillsbury

Categories
News

Finances & Photography

Friends,

Moving Pillsbury Forward has been in the news and making progress this month.  Last week we secured contracts for $1.5M with the City of Springfield. Dean Olsen with the Illinois Times wrote a great article explaining our financial progress on the overall Pillsbury Project.

https://www.illinoistimes.com/news-opinion/moving-forward-with-demolition-18122743

We also took advantage of great weather last week to advance our preservation photography project.  It was dry in the AB-Mill basement so we took a few pictures of the Millwright workbenches. This is the area of the plant where the Millwrights kept their tools and planned for upgrades and repairs throughout the entire facility.  Mid-Twentieth century manufacturing at our Springfield Pillsbury plant included in-house design, maintenance, repairs, and metal fabrication that was truly impressive. 

Thanks for being a part of this important community project.

~ Team Pillsbury 

Pillsbury plant: AB Mill basement filming. Photo credit Frank Bowen
Pillsbury plant: AB Mill basement filming. Photo credit Frank Bowen
Pillsbury plant: AB Mill basement. Photo credit Frank Bowen
Pillsbury plant: AB Mill basement. Photo credit Frank Bowen
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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

News and Updates Feb 1, 2024

Friends,

Micro Pantry Update:  We had several great donations this week…Thank you!  The pantry is accessible 24/7 for smaller donations directly into the pantry.  Our south dock location has shelving for larger donations that can be distributed as the pantry runs low.  We are working toward better stocking consistency for our neighbors in need.  Please, contact us for drop off arrangements of larger donations.  Thanks. 

Preservation Photography Project: We have had inquiries about making select prints available for purchase.  We are in the process of working this through with our primary photographer.  We will have more on this topic in the coming weeks.

Recent Employee Interview & Donation: We did another interview with a long-time employee last week.  He donated several items.  One item of prime interest is a 9-page, September 1986, Union Employee List. Great to have this added to our collection.  We are still looking for 1950’s & 60’s lists to fill in gaps…if they are out there…we would love to have copies.  Thanks.

Illinois AgriNews Article Jan. 10: Yes…our AP article written by John O’Connor was picked up and published by Illinois AgriNews.  The Springfield Pillsbury plant had a big impact on Central Illinois agriculture for many years.  Great job John!

https://www.agrinews-pubs.com/business/2024/01/10/decaying-pillsbury-mill-in-illinois-is-now-getting-new-life/

Another very interesting video link: Volunteers doing a bit of research found a 10-minute YouTube video from 2017.  This WAND TV raw video footage was taken during a press day (Aug. 4, 2017) while the US EPA bulk cleanup was taking place.  The narrated video tour was done in the basement of the Grocery Mix Building.  It is a great representation of just how extensive the cleanup activities were in 2017.  

RAW PILLSBURY EPA CLEAN UP (youtube.com)

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.
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News

Pillsbury Micro Pantry Collection

Friends,

Micro Pantry 16th and Phillips.

Moving Pillsbury Forward partnered with the Pillsbury Neighborhood Association and installed a micro pantry on the southwest corner of the former Pillsbury property a few weeks ago.  Use of the pantry has been steady.  The need for quality food in the neighborhood is significant.

Our initial supply for the pantry is running low.  So…it is time to take our collection activities to the next level. Please, consider helping…here are a few ways to contribute:

Visit springfieldareamicropantries.com for more information about Springfield micro pantry locations and supplies.

Thanks in advance for helping with this important community effort.

~ Team Pillsbury

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
News

Pillsbury Project 2023 Accomplishments

Friends,

2023 has been a wonderful year of accomplishment for Moving Pillsbury Forward and the Pillsbury Project.  Here are the brief highlights:

  • Demolished 5 buildings at the site (January)
  • $2M in Congressionally Directed Funds from the Office of Senator Durbin (January)
  • Technical Assistance final report from USEPA (February)
  • $2M in funding commitments from the City of Springfield (February)
  • Hosted 500 people for Spring Tours (April)
  • 34 Pillsbury Employees in group photo (April)
  • $800K in cleanup grant funding from USEPA (May)
  • $1.2M in State funding through the Office of Senator Turner (June)
  • Community Garden partnership with SIU-Med/Pillsbury Neighborhood (July)
  • Reunion Project/Tuesdays at the Dock with employees and families (August)
  • 300 tons of debris removal at the site (September)
  • 100 people attended the Echoes of Pillsbury opening (September)
  • Partnership with street artists, Visitors (September)
  • Hosted 1000 people for Fall tours (October)
  • 1300 people attended Visitors Art Exhibitions (November)
  • Micro-Pantry partnership and installation (November)
  • 400 people attended bonus tours (December)
  • Holiday light display at Pillsbury brings energy and cheer (December)
  • Associated Press article brings national attention to the project (December)

While the measurable elements of the list are considerable, the interactions we have had with the community have equal or greater value.  The Pillsbury Project is much more than working through the difficult mechanics of demolishing buildings and moving toward redevelopment.  The Pillsbury Project is about people coming together, taking control of a tough situation, and improving the quality of life in Springfield. 

Thank you!  We appreciate everyone being a part of advancing the Pillsbury Project.

Now…let’s see what we can accomplish in 2024!

~ Team Pillsbury

Categories
News

AP article: Decaying Pillsbury mill in Illinois that once churned flour into opportunity is now getting new life

On December 23, 2023, the Pillsbury Project and Moving Pillsbury Forward were featured in a story by John O’Connor of the Associated Press. A brief excerpt:

Moving Pillsbury Forward has managed to turn the decrepit site in Illinois’ capital city into a leisure destination verging on cultural phenomenon.

Tours have been highly popular and repeated. Oral histories have emerged. Spray-paint vandals, boosted instead of busted, have become artists in residence for nighttime graffiti exhibitions, which more than 1,000 people attended.

Retired University of Illinois archeologist Robert Mazrim has mined artifacts and assembled an “Echoes of Pillsbury” museum beneath a leaking loading dock roof. This month, the plant’s towering headhouse is ablaze with holiday lights.

John O’Connor of the Associated Press

Read the full story at https://apnews.com/article/pillsbury-mills-springfield-cleanup-brownfields-asbestos-graffiti-4163e35e84c507adfcee97cd44a41431