Building with Brick, The Art of Lego

‘Building with Brick, The Art of Lego’ displays the talents of area Lego artists for a limited time at the Jacksonville Area Museum. 

All entries will be on display from Wednesday, December 7, 2022 through Saturday, February 4, 2023, with the public voting on their favorites in the three categories until February 1. The winning builds in each category will be announced on February 4 and each will be awarded a $100 Lego gift card. 

The exhibit highlights includes a customized three-by-five-foot Hogwarts School as the centerpiece of the exhibition. This extraordinary build is a combination of available kits, and customized additions, making the final layout 4 times larger than the original Lego kit. It is a must-see for any Lego enthusiast! 

“Building with Brick – The Art of Lego” may be viewed during the museum’s regular hours of operation, which are Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., except for a week when the museum is closed for maintenance on January 1-7, 2023.

Museum Looking for Lego Artists! 

The Jacksonville Area Museum has issued a call for entries in its first annual “Building with Brick – The Art of Lego” exhibit and contest, and Lego enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to register their creations to be exhibited December 7, 2022 through February 4, 2023.

The museum is seeking Lego masterpieces and will award prizes in three categories: Best Build from a Kit; Best Original Build; and Best Kids’ Build, for original creations from children 12 years of age or under. Those interested must register their creations in advance by emailing manager@jacksonvilleareamuseum.org. Submissions must include the entrant’s name, phone number, and the title or description of the build. If a Lego kit, entrants must indicate the name of the kit so there will be no duplicate kits on display – the first person to enter a particular Lego kit will be the only one allowed to display that kit.

Only those who pre-register their Lego creations will be allowed to exhibit them, and there will be no walk-in registrations. All who submit Lego creations must sign a museum loan agreement when the creation is delivered to the museum between now and December 4 on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., the days and times when the museum is open to the public. Children must have a parent’s signature on the loan agreement. The creations may be picked up after the exhibit is over on Sunday, February 5 or later during regular museum hours. Submission details will be emailed to builders.

All entries will be on display from Wednesday, December 7, 2022 through Saturday, February 4, 2023, with the public voting on their favorites in the three categories until February 1. The winning builds in each category will be announced on February 4 and each will be awarded a $100 Lego gift card. The exhibit will also feature non-voting submissions, including a customized three-by-five-foot Hogwarts School as the centerpiece of the exhibition.

“Building with Brick – The Art of Lego” may be viewed during the museum’s regular hours of operation, which are Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. 

“The Museum is building upon its first year’s success by encouraging the public to build and display their best Lego creations with us,” said Jacksonville Area Museum Board Chairman David Blanchette. “We hope this combination of our highly regarded museum and a wildly popular creative phenomenon is an enjoyable success.” 

The Jacksonville Area Museum is located in the old Post Office building at 301 E. State Street. There is no admission fee but a donation of $5 is suggested to keep the museum operating.

Two Capps-Related Events on Nov 16

The Jacksonville Area Museum will host two events related to its J. Capps & Sons exhibit, including a hands-on ornament making activity with a sewing theme, on Wednesday, November 16.

“J. Capps & Sons Indian Trade Blankets, Buffalo Bill Cody and Really Nice Threads” will be presented in the Jacksonville Area Museum’s west gallery at 5 p.m. on November 16 by Donna Cody and Terry Maggart. Cody researched the Capps Indian Trade Blankets and the connection between Buffalo Bill Cody and J. Capps & Sons for a program she presented to the Household Science Club. She will share the information she gleaned and will have examples of the blankets. Maggart, who worked at J. Capps & Sons in the mid-1970s and was there when the company closed after more than 130 years, will talk about the specific techniques of J. Capps & Sons suit construction and the impact the popularization of polyester fabrics had on the company. The presentation will last about 30 minutes.

“Spools of Fun” ornament-making will also be held at the museum on Wednesday, November 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. The museum’s 2022 Christmas Tree will have a sewing theme in honor of the museum’s J. Capps & Sons exhibit that opened earlier this year. Spools of Fun participants will make ornaments for the tree using wood thread spools. The event is designed for people of all ages, adults and children, crafty or not. All supplies will be provided. The only thing participants need to bring is creativity, and they may stay for a few minutes or the entire two hours.

“My sisters and I made a couple dozen ornaments as examples and had a blast doing it,” said event organizer Laura Marks. “What’s great about it is the possible designs are endless and there’s no right or wrong way to create an ornament.”

Both events are free and open to the public. Reservations can be made by calling (217) 408-1197 or emailing manager@jacksonvilleareamuseum.org.

The November 16 events supplement “J. Capps & Sons, Ltd. A History of NICE THREADS!,” a new major exhibit featuring the history of Jacksonville’s first manufacturer that opened in July. “NICE THREADS!” traces the history of the company from 1839, when Joseph Capps started his wool carding business in Jacksonville, through the company’s closing in 1975. Many original artifacts are included in the exhibit, including men’s suits, topcoats, military uniforms, and the company’s famous Indian trade blankets that Buffalo Bill endorsed. Also featured are original fabrics, tools, company records, photographs, and Capps employee reminiscences through the years..

The Jacksonville Area Museum is located in the old Post Office building at 301 E. State Street, and its regular schedule is Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. There is no admission fee but a donation of $5 is suggested to keep the museum operating.

Museum to Celebrate One-Year Anniversary September 25

The Jacksonville Area Museum will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a special open house during the museum’s regular hours of operation on Sunday, September 25 from 1 to 4 p.m. The open house will feature photographs of the old Post Office building before it was transformed into a museum, a brief program at 2 p.m., and refreshments on the museum’s outdoor porch.

“It seems like just yesterday when we opened our doors, and in one short year we’ve become a destination for visitors from near and far,” said Museum Board Chairman David Blanchette. “Our museum members, donors and supporters are the reason for our success, and with their backing this first year is just the start of a long and exciting journey into the area’s unique heritage and culture.”

More than 1,500 visitors have toured the Jacksonville Area Museum during its first year of operation. The museum hosted the prestigious Smithsonian “Voices and Votes” exhibit late last year, and launched a new exhibit, “NICE THREADS! A History of J. Capps & Sons” this summer. Several important artifact donations have occurred during the institution’s first year of operation, a museum manager was hired to oversee the museum’s day-to-day operations, and the Jacksonville Area Museum Foundation was formed to raise money to expand and improve the museum.

Plans are underway for Phase Two of the museum’s development, which will transform the large, open central area of the building into additional exhibit and gallery space.

The Jacksonville Area Museum uses original artifacts, storytelling exhibits and the building itself, as well as items from the MacMurray College Foundation and Alumni Association collection, to show people of all ages and backgrounds why the Jacksonville community has been and continues to be one of a kind.

The museum is located in the old Post Office building at 301 E. State Street, and its regular schedule is Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. There is no admission fee but a donation of $5 is suggested to keep the museum operating.

“Nice Threads” Capps Clothing Co. exhibit opens July 16

“Nice Threads,” a new major exhibit featuring the history of the Capps Clothing Company, will officially open to the public on Saturday, July 16 at the Jacksonville Area Museum in downtown Jacksonville. A special preview for museum members only will be offered on Wednesday evening, July 13.

“Nice Threads” traces the history of the company from 1839, when Joseph Capps started his wool carding business in Jacksonville, through the company’s closing in 1975. Many original artifacts are included in the exhibit, including men’s suits, topcoats, military uniforms, and the company’s famous Indian blankets that were a prominent feature of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Also featured are original fabrics, tools, company records, photographs, and the reminiscences of Capps employees through the years that can be accessed via podcast.

“Capps Clothing Company was Morgan County’s oldest manufacturing firm and the products it produced for more than 135 years were world-renowned for their quality,” said Jacksonville Area Museum Board Chairman David Blanchette. “Many current Jacksonville residents either worked at Capps or knew someone who did, and the factory’s impact on the community’s history is profound.” 

At its height, Capps employed 450 workers and made clothes that were sold in more than 800 retail establishments in 40 states. 

The Jacksonville Area Museum uses original artifacts, storytelling exhibits and the building itself, as well as items from the MacMurray College Foundation and Alumni Association collection, to show people of all ages and backgrounds why the Jacksonville community has been and continues to be one of a kind.

The museum is located in the old Post Office building at 301 E. State Street, and its regular schedule is Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. There is no admission fee but a donation of $5 is suggested to keep the all-volunteer museum operating. 

Announcing the Jacksonville History Podcast

The Jacksonville Area Museum is proud to announce its new history podcast!

Spring is a time for new things, and our podcast is the newest way to share the wonderful audio stories of the Jacksonville area. You can listen to the story directly from the person who lived it, or has direct knowledge of the topic.

For our launch, we have a handful of stories to get you started. More will be added regularly. Current stories include:

  1. Dr EC Bone, with David Bone
  2. Old Post Office with postmaster Russell Schofield
  3. Carnation (Nestle) plant history with Tom Schierl
  4. Ruth Linear, African American historian
  5. J Capps and Sons with George Murphy

What is a podcast? It’s similar to radio shows that play on your phone or computer. You can access them via apps on your phone: Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, plus a few others. Search for ‘Jacksonville Area Museum’ and look for our round orange logo.

Each recording lasts from 10-30 min. More stories will be added as we move ahead. Have an idea or a person that you think should be interviewed? Contact us at info@jacksonvilleareamuseum.org.

Happy listening!

Sarah Angleton presentation and book signing this Saturday

Sarah Angleton, the author of several books of historical fiction, including one featuring a founder of the former MacMurray College, will appear at the Jacksonville Area Museum on Saturday, April 30 at 10 a.m. for a presentation and book signing. The event is free and open to the public, and no advance reservations are required.

Angleton’s White Man’s Graveyard is about the issue of removing freed slaves from the United States to Liberia in the mid-1800s. The book’s two main characters, siblings Annie and Sylvanus, were real people and Angleton’s ancestors. Sylvanus was a missionary physician with the Methodist Episcopal Church who went to Liberia to serve the freed Blacks who were establishing a colony there. But it was his sister Annie who had the Jacksonville connections.

“Annie married Reverend Peter Akers, the circuit rider who prophesied in 1837 at a camp meeting that slavery would soon end and that one who was in the crowd that day may have an important role to play,” Angleton said. “A young Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln was there that day and was listening.”

Akers was a founder of the Illinois Conference Female Academy, established in 1846, that was the forerunner of MacMurray College. Angleton did key research at MacMurray College for Akers’ role in her book. The material that Angleton used for her research is now part of the MacMurray College Foundation and Alumni Association collection at the Jacksonville Area Museum.

Angleton’s other books include Gentleman of Misfortune, a tale of scoundrels, mummies, and the Joseph Smith Papyri; Smoke Rose to Heaven, a tale of fanaticism, treachery, and the Spalding Enigma; and Launching Sheep & Other Stories from the Intersection of History and Nonsense, a humorous look at history from the perspective of modern-day family life. Visit www.sarah-angleton.com for more information.

The Jacksonville Female Academy

The Jacksonville Female Academy is said to be the first women’s school for secondary education in Illinois.

Anne Rutledge, the purported love interest of Abraham Lincoln, was making plans to attend the Jacksonville Female Academy when she died in 1835.

If Rutledge had not succumbed to typhoid fever, she most likely would have attended classes in the new Female Academy building that had been constructed on the corner of West Morgan and South Church streets. The Photo is most likely taken in the early 1900s.

The Female Academy opened its doors in 1833. The Rev. John Ellis, a Presbyterian minister who helped establish Illinois College in 1829, also had a hand in founding the Female Academy.

Before Academy Hall was demolished in 1936, some Jacksonville residents called for its preservation, in view of the role the academy played in Illinois and the Midwest. “The influence of the school and its graduates was widespread. It is with full realization of its history and traditions that Jacksonville will watch (the building) go, as Jacksonville more than 100 years ago saw its beginning.”

The Jacksonville High School Bowl has stood on the former site of the Jacksonville Female Academy since 1952.

Read more in “The Way We Were: Volume II” by Greg Olson, and published by the Morgan County Historical Society.