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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Out of place


South Fourth Street, Springfield, Illinois.

This is one of those Springfield places that always draws my curiosity. It's almost downtown. It's set way back off the street. From the front, it has a view of the governor's mansion. As shown in the photo, it has a view of Lincoln Towers. Who built it? Who lived there? Does anyone live there, now? How has it managed to survive the fate of so many other places that were torn down for office buildings. The questions go on. I should mention, there's a well maintained two story brick house right next door.

Posted by Marie at January 7, 2007 11:38 PM


i probably drove past this place every day for 5.5 years when i worked at 4th and monroe. this is the first i've ever seen it.

Posted by: jason at January 8, 2007 5:47 AM

It's known as the Condell House, and it's one of the oldest remaining homes in Springfield. I've just started looking into this one, but I'll have more on it soon.

Here's a shot of the place from 1965:

Posted by: Russ at January 8, 2007 8:25 AM

Jason, it is set back pretty far.

Russ, thanks for that info.

Posted by: Marie at January 8, 2007 11:55 PM

You don't want to mess with that house.

Just leave it be.

That's all I can say on the matter.

But only a fool would mess with that house.

That house aint' no good.

You hear me?


Posted by: Jeromeprophet at January 9, 2007 1:34 PM

I'm sure you know about this, but what the heck:

Posted by: Dan at January 9, 2007 10:29 PM

JP, I'm not understanding what you're saying. You have personal experience with the house?

Dan, My Junior League membership must have lapsed back in... er, I never had a membership.

Seriously, no, I didn't know about that. What a great find. I always suspected the Condell house was special. Thanks for pointing that out. Added: My mom would have loved that scarf. Actually, I kind of like it myself.

Posted by: Marie at January 9, 2007 10:49 PM

Then there's this:

And this (check the name John Condell on the list; is the residential address the same as this house?):

And this: References to Thomas Condell (1863-1929), apparently a noted art collector, first curator of the Springfield Art Association ( and co-founder of the Sangamon County Foundation ( He's buried at Oak Ridge.

There's an older Thomas Condell, too, a native of Ireland and a banker (also buried in Oak Ridge: who is said to have been one of Lincoln's hometown backers in 1860:

Hmmm. And here's the one ring that binds them all:

Note the reference in that piece to John S. Condell, a resident of 4th Street and brother to Thomas Condell the elder. Thomas Condell the younger is apparently the son of Moses B. Condell (, one of Thomas the elder's sons.

Um -- that was fun for me. Sorry to be a Google bore. ...

Posted by: Dan at January 9, 2007 11:16 PM

And also:

I find some references from 1888 and 1890 that suggest the John Condell of 4th Street was the sheriff of Sangamon County at that time.

I do have other uses for my time. Really!

Posted by: Dan at January 9, 2007 11:22 PM

Dan, Great research. I have not seen most of those links. Thanks!

Posted by: Marie at January 9, 2007 11:26 PM

Just being goofy. I love old homes, especially the haunted ones!


Posted by: JeromeProphet at January 11, 2007 2:20 PM

The home belonged to the couple Elizabeth Bledsoe and Thomas Condell. Thomas was born in Ireland in 1806. Elizabeth's parents were Moses Owsley Bledsoe and Sophia Childress Taylor. Thomas was a banker. The family lived in Springfield in 1850 and were friends with Edwards and Lincolns.

Posted by: at March 17, 2007 7:53 PM

Hi - I am a direct decedent of Thomas Edwin Condell and Elizabeth Bledsoe. I was privileged to visit the house in 2000. It was in pretty bad condition. From the research I had done the house was owed by Thomas' brother John Condell. The Condells came to Philadelphia from Dublin, Ireland around 1923. The brothers Thomas and John S Condell traveled to Carolltown, Illinois around 1833. They bought property in Springfield in 1841. There was a relationship between the Condell family and Mary Todd Lincoln's family. So I am quite sure that there was socializing with the Lincolns prior to his becoming President.

I can track the Condell's back to Dublin 1810 but no further. The Bledsoe family has a long linage.

Sharon in San Diego

Posted by: Sharon Chickering at March 20, 2007 11:12 PM

Ooops I meant to say "the Condells came from Dublin, Ireland around 1823". . . . not 1923

Sorry.Sharon in San Diego

Posted by: Sharon Chickering at March 20, 2007 11:42 PM

The Bledsoe, Condell and Owsley families are very prominent in US history and the Owsley family produced a governor, senators, state representatives, judges and many lawyers and businessmen in Kentucky and Illinois - and John Ebsworth Owsley, a very personal, close friend of Abraham Lincoln, married Henrietta Heaton whose mother was Emily Bledsoe, dau of Moses Owsley Bledsoe, son of Patience Owsley and Rev. William Bledsoe. Patience was daughter of Thomas Owsley III whose body was moved to Oak Ridge Cemetery in 1890 from his plantation in Lincoln Co Kentucky when sold. Another daughter of Moses Owsley Bledsoe, Elizabeth, married Thomas Condell, and they too as well as his brother John N. Condell may have lived in this house on 4th. The stately Greek Revival mansion of John Ebsworth Owsley was also on 4th but sadly was demolished - was most likely very near this home - which Abraham Lincoln could have visited as well due to the close association with Owsley/Bledsoe/Condell families

It is important that his historic home be saved and restored and also designated as a historic landmark - is there any protection in Springfield for significant historical houses? - it is tragic about how the house has deteriorated. Does anyone know the owners? is it in tax foreclosure? Is there an historical society in Springfield that could be contacted and with whom thisshare could be shared and could they do something to facilitate its preservation? Would love to hear about any progress to save it. Randy in Houston (Owsley descendant)

Posted by: Randy at May 13, 2007 12:16 AM

I meant to say that the John Ebsworth House (later occupied by Right Rev. George Seymour, Bishop of Springfield), was at Second and Edwards not on 4th or at 312 W Adams as I been give the wrong info - but that site today of the Owsley-Seymour House at Second and Edwards is now the Capitol building, so it must have been demolished prior to 1868 when the Capitol building was begun. Of course the Capitol Building is a very important historic building. There is a photo of Owsley Seymour House at
there are many other photos of lost architecture of Springfield published in this issue of "Illinois Illustrated Capital (Springfield Illinois State Register 1898, p 104) - check out the site and its table of contents to view all these other lost beauties.

Per Nancy with Sangamon County Historical Society the Cordell home on South Fourth (WHAT IS THE EXACT ADDRESS??) was relocated there to South Fourth in 1852 and was formerly a wing of the Methodist Church on Monroe and 5th St. built in 1842. Nancy found this info in Floyd Barringer's Historic Homes of Springfield page 84 and it says the home was later occupied after Condell by a Hickox - I did some checking on and it seems this would have been Harris, son of Virgil Hickox - also I noticed in the "Illustrated" book there is a reference to Harris Hickox home at 529 South Fourth - and there is a pic of that home. Is Barringer confusing the Cordell house on same street with the Hickox house at 529 S. Fourth??? What is the physical street address of the Cordell house on S. Fourth???Randy

Posted by: Randy at May 14, 2007 1:33 PM

Sorry - it would help if I could type

the web address for the Illustrated p 104 showing the Owsley-Seymour House is:

the table of contents is

Thanks Randy in Houston

Posted by: Randy at May 14, 2007 1:47 PM

Sorry - it would help if I could type

the web address for the Illustrated p 104 showing the Owsley-Seymour House is:

the table of contents is

Thanks Randy in Houston

Posted by: Randy at May 14, 2007 1:48 PM