Then – This is a circa 1910 photo (#1845) of Willow Drive (now Patrick Avenue/state Route 54) looking south. As related by Emmett Sweetman, engineer for the city of Urbana, in a Springfield Sun article of March 13, 1958, Willow Drive, currently Patrick Avenue, with its overhanging willow trees, drew beauty lovers from afar to view its shady splendor.
In 1923 the famous old trees so overhung the road to the Oak Dale Cemetery that they created a problem. In the spring of 1923 as Mr. Sweetman’s wife’s grandfather was being buried in Oak Dale Cemetery, one of the willow trees came down, blocking the funeral procession halfway along Willow Drive. All of the willows were cut down in the summer of that year and replaced with locust trees. The willow wood was used to fabricate artificial legs.
The locust trees were replaced by elm trees in 1958. Unfortunately, the elm trees succumbed to Dutch Elm disease. The sidewalk on the cemetery side of the road was added in the 1890s.
Now- This is a 2019 photo looking south on Patrick Avenue. Note Oak Dale Cemetery on the left.
The circa 1915 photo (#A1547) of Chowning’s Art Studio shows the address as 121 N. Main St., Urbana. Likely the address number has changed as the Boston Store, which was in the building next door toward the square, was listed as 121 N. Main St. in 1920. The studio was located on the 2nd floor. As indicated on the awning, the Champaign Clothing Co. was on the first floor. When the Boston Store was at 121 N. Main St. the Scherer Clothing Store was located on the first floor of the building in which Chowning Art Studio was located in 1915.
Note the women with hats looking at photos at the bottom of the stairway leading to the studio. How about the motorcycle at the curb! Most likely it is an early Harley-Davidson, perhaps 1905 or 1910.
This 2019 photo is of the same location as the circa 1915 photo.
Info from the Champaign County Historical Museum, an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization that depends upon donations and dues to preserve, protect, archive and display the artifacts that tell the Champaign County story. The free public museum located at 809 East Lawn Ave., Urbana, is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays.
Looking Back at Champaign County
The Champaign County Historical Society strives to highlight historical people, places and events throughout Champaign County. If you have photos of historical significance that you believe would be of interest to Champaign Countians, please Contact Us.