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.
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.