The dancing will be in
full swing from 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 31 in the Old State Capitol's Hall
of Representatives. The ball is free and open to the public and is
part of the First Night Springfield celebration. Visitors are
invited to tour the candlelit building that evening and enjoy the
historic holiday atmosphere.
Other events in downtown Springfield
that evening require First Night admission. For more information on
the First Night schedule and admission prices, visit
www.springfieldartsco.org. The parking garage underneath the Old
State Capitol will be open that evening, and parking rates will be
$3 per car.
Steve Staley and the New Century Orchestra will play dance music
of the mid-19th century, and dancing will be coordinated by the
Springfield International Folk Dancers. Playing in the New Century
Orchestra are Dustin Suits, clarinet; Tom Philbrick, tuba; Bill
Furry, guitar; and Steve Staley, fiddle.
The First Night Period Ball is reminiscent of the formal dances
and celebrations at the building when it served as the seat of
Illinois government from 1839 to 1876. Newspaper accounts of the day
described such events:
May 1, 1850:
"Monsieur De La Barthe" holds an "exhibition ball" beginning at 8
P.M. in the Senate Chamber. Gentlemen's tickets available at
Chatterton's, Birchall & Owens Drug Store, and the American House.
This appears to be a demonstration designed to induce people to sign
up for dancing classes to be given by La Barthe. Gentlemen's classes
begin on Monday evening, May 6, and ladies on Wed., May 8.
Prospective pupils are invited to sign up at La Barthe's residence
on corner of Madison and Fifth. [Illinois State Register, April 16,
Masonic Lodge holds
an evening ball at the statehouse to raise funds for building a
Masonic hall in Springfield "next summer." Tickets available from
Capt. J. R. Diller at firm of Ash and Diller. Music provided by
Prof. Kennedy leading the Union Brass Band of St. Louis. Mr.
McMullen ("Mac") of the City Hotel served "refreshments" at
midnight. Groups invited from nearby communities -- "The company was
large, at least two hundred and fifty, embracing a number of ladies
and gentlemen from our neighboring towns." [Illinois State Register,
November 13, 1850 and Illinois State Journal, November 11, 13 and
[to top of second column]
June 24: Masonic
Lodge holds a "citizens ball" in Rep. Hall on the evening of St.
John's day. Grierson's Band plays. Tickets on sale at Corneau &
Diller's Drug Store, Ives & Curran's and C. W. Chatterton's Jewelry
Store. Here's the Register's account of the festivities: "St.
John's day was celebrated yesterday in this city in most superb
style. A dinner was given by the fraternity at the National Hotel,
and the host proved that he knows how to do the elegant in the
science of gastronomy.
"A procession was
formed at the masonic saloon and marched to the state house,
preceded by the Jacksonville brass band. A large number of
'brother's from abroad' were present and joined in the exercise. At
the state house appropriate prayers were offered and impressive
pieces of music performed. Capt. Isaac R. Diller delivered a very
interesting and eloquent address, descriptive of the usefulness to
the order and the vast benefits it has conferred on mankind. A
splendid ball in the evening, at the state house concluded the
exercises of the day, which was one of the most joyous ever
witnessed in our town." [Illinois State Register, June 26, 1852]
January 9, 1843:
The "citizens of Springfield and visitors of said city" granted use
of Rep. Hall on this evening to celebrate the anniversary of the
Battle of New Orleans. [Illinois State Register, January 13, 1843]
Old State Capitol State Historic Site, administered by the
Preservation Agency, is open to the public Tuesday through
[Text from file received from
the Illinois Historic