Given that this year is the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Champaign County Historical Museum looks back at Champaign County involvement, beginning with Robert L. Eichelberger, who was born in Urbana and graduated from Urbana High School in 1903. A Nov. 29, 1941, photo (#A2459) at the museum shows Maj. Gen. Eichelberger, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, escorting Eleanor Roosevelt at the Army-Navy football game at West Point.
Eight days later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Subsequently, Eichelberger asked for his release to a combat assignment “so he could be useful to his country.” In August 1942, he was sent to Australia for a job that was to keep him in the Pacific theater for six years. His first assignment from Gen. Douglas MacArthur was to take a command and break the stalemate at Buna on the northwest coast of New Guinea, where demoralized allied forces had been attacking, through tangled jungle and swamp, impregnable Japanese defensive positions.
As a result of Eichelberger‘s leadership, the stalemate was broken, resulting in the first Allied Ground Force victory in the Pacific.
The Champaign County Historical Museum is a 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, 809 East Lawn Ave., Urbana, is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.
This is a 1896 postcard photo of the Urbana High School building (#1807) which was built in 1879. The building burned in 1897 and was replaced at the same location by ‘The Castle’ (#0158) which was first occupied in 1901 -1902. During the interim before The Castle building was completed the Curry Institute building on East Water Street (#A1837) was used. As the new Urbana High School building comes into service, it is interesting to look back on the buildings that proceeded it.
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.