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Villa Grove, Illinois

January 6, 2013 7 comments

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A while back I took some pictures in Villa Grove using a Holga lens for a digital Canon camera.  I misplaced them on my computer and only just came across them today while I was looking for something else.  Still this post is more about Villa Grove than about a lens.  The image of above is of the old water tower in Villa Grove. To me at least if there is any icon for Villa Grove it is that water tower.  The brick building in front was a library and then was the police station.  Currently I believe it is slated to be torn down.

Villa Grove is a town of 2500 around 20 miles south of Champaign-Urbana IL. Villa Grove came to be the town it is today just after the start of the 20th century when the C&EI railroad decided to build shops there.  The downtown and most of the older housing in Villa Grove came to be as a result of the C&EI shops.  The shops closed down sometime in the 1950’s when the C&EI switched to Diesel power.

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Villa Grove continued to have a healthy downtown up until the 1970’s.  The building here was once  a bank.  I think it is vacant now.  On this corner the City of Villa Grove once placed a Christmas tree in the middle of the street.  When I was a kid it seemed like it was a tradition that someone would get drunk and drive their car into the tree.  Once the Christmas tree crasher was said to have been one of the teachers at the local high school.  Nobody seems to have taken this very seriously at the time.

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The sign is off the Gem Theater, however it was open until recently and there is a possibility that it may open again. I can remember times in the 1960’s when people lined up around the block waiting to see a movie here.

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This was Roy French’s barber shop when I was a kid.  I probably got my first haircut here.  I remember there was a box of toys and comic books for kids.

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A typical residential street in Villa Grove.  Most of the houses in Villa Grove are ordinary in size.  There isn’t a section of the town where there are larger houses that the better off people lived in.  Just looking at the houses Villa Grove appears to have always been fairly solidly middle or working class.