Willis J. Spaulding Collection


Willis J. Spaulding Collection


Spaulding, Willis James, 1870-1965
Illinois--Lincoln Memorial Garden
Springfield (Ill.). Water, Light, and Power Department
Illinois--Lake Springfield
Jensen, Jens, 1860-1951


Willis J. Spaulding was a native of Springfield, Illinois and largely responsible for the construction of Lake Springfield and the city-owned power plant from 1927-1935. He was the son of Herbert and Mary Johnson Spaulding, who owned the Spaulding farm and nursery. In 1909 he was appointed superintendent of the city water works and served through 1911 when he was appointed Commissioner of Public Property. He remained in that position for eight consecutive terms ending in 1944. He instigated the drive for the construction of the city’s lake and power plant and was known as the “Father of Lake Springfield.” The Lindsay Bridge and Lincoln Memorial Gardens were also built during Spaulding’s tenure. He served as a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention and was president of the Public Ownership League of America. His brother, Charles H. Spaulding, was the general superintendent of the Springfield Water Department and invented the Spaulding precipitator.

Photographs in this collection include images of the Spaulding family, public works construction, landscape architect Jens Jensen working on his designs for Lincoln Memorial Garden, and the dedication of Lake Springfield in July 1935.

Collection Items

Willis J. Spaulding
Willis J. Spaulding looks at a glass of water.

Spaulding Quintet
The Spaulding Quintet poses for the camera.

August Leroy Residence
A view of the front of August Leroy's Los Angeles, California home.

Spaulding Family
The Spaulding Family poses for a picture. Willis J. Spaulding is seated fifth from left.

Wagon Scene
A group of unidentified men sit in a boat on dry land with a wagon in the foreground.

Charles and Ruth Spaulding
Charles Spaulding and Ruth Spaulding, brother and sister of Willis J. Spaulding, hold hands.

Elizabeth Stewart Clark
Elizabeth Stewart Clark, cousin of Willis J. Spaulding, poses in a dress with feathers.

Jessie Spaulding Bode
Jessie Spaulding Bode, sister of Willis J. Spaulding, poses with a violin.

Willis and Mary Spaulding
Willis J. Spaulding takes a bite of the apple offered up from his wife, Mary Spaulding.

Water Filtration Staff
The original crew of the water filtration system, probably located at the Lake Springfield Power Plant, take a group picture. On verso: "[Major] Bray, Ray Pearce, Charles Hartman, Roy Graves, Bill Madden?, Charles Spaulding, Ralfh Wheeler, Paul…

Jens Jensen and Willis J. Spaulding
Landscape architect Jens Jensen and Commissioner Willis J. Spaulding stand next to Lake Springfield.

Jens Jensen
Landscape architect Jens Jensen writes in a notebook along Lake Springfield.

Jens Jensen
Landscape architect Jens Jensen sits against one of the trees in Lincoln Memorial Gardens.

Old Riverside Station Cornerstone
The original cornerstone of the Old Riverside Station inscribed with Willis J. Spaulding's quote, "Health Requires Pure Water, Civic Health Requires Faithful Public Service."

Business Meeting
Willis J. Spaulding and twelve other men, likely city officials, gather around the meeting table for a group photo. Spaulding is seated fourth from the right.

Willis J. Spaulding at Construction Site
Willis J. Spaulding sits upon a suspended subsection of sewer tunnel at the old pump station. Spaulding served as Superintendent of City Water Works (1909-1911) and as Commissioner of Public Property (1911-1944).

Old Pump Station
An unidentified man stands atop a suspended subsection of sewer tunnel while others pose in the trench and along its banks.

Old Pump Station
John W. Curren, Jr., Robert T. Curren, John W. Curren, Sr., and Commissioner of Public Property Willis J. Spaulding gather for a group photo at the old pump station of the Sangamon River. On verso: "Digging for more water from the lower sands at old…

Lake Springfield Dedication
Springfield mayor John W. Kapp, Jr. and commissioners Joseph Figenria, John Van Horn, and Harry B. Luers wait in anticipation as Willis J. Spaulding starts the newly installed turbo generator at the lake station. The station was dedicated in July…

Pumping Station
Men inspect the interior of the newly built Lake Springfield pumping station.
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