click to enlarge PHOTO BY PATRICK YEAGLE

One of the last unrestored pre-Civil War buildings in Springfield is finally getting some love. Workers started tearing asbestos siding off of the Judge John Wickliffe Taylor House at the corner of 12th and Cass streets in Springfield on Aug. 5, and a huge pile of trash had already been removed from the front lawn of the long-neglected building. The house was built by Judge Taylor sometime in the 1850s, around the same time Abe Lincoln’s house was built, and it used to sit alone in a field because that area of Springfield had yet to be platted. Taylor was a county judge who likely had at least some dealings with Lincoln, and it’s possible Lincoln even visited the house. When the workers tore off the asbestos siding earlier this week, they exposed older siding that may be original to the house. At one point, the building was used as a Home and Hospital for Fallen Women such as prostitutes, and it later became the Ambidexter Institute trade school, which taught young black men and women at a time when educating African-Americans was looked down upon. Inside the house, the original staircase and some woodwork remain intact. A local nonprofit which requested not to be identified yet is undertaking the work, with plans to restore the house and create a park in the open lot to the south.

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