City of Springfield, Illinois

James O. Langfelder - Mayor

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Nelson Building

Nelson Building

117-119 South 7th Street, Springfield, IL

The Nelson Building remains an excellent example of a typical late Italianate storefront that was prevalent in 19th century American commercial buildings. It was constructed along the traditional dividing line between the business district to the west and the notorious “Levee” district to the east. An intact decorative cooper cornice crowns this four-bay, two-story masonry building with exposed iron beams and columns. Large plate glass windows allowed businesses to attract shoppers through better merchandise display. John Nelson, a grocer and saloon keeper, bought a home on the site in 1865. He entered local politics and was elected Sangamon County Treasurer. After his death, his widow Mary hired architect William Conway to design a commercial building for the site of their former residence. The building included first floor storefront businesses and quality second floor apartments with the latest conveniences.