The first place our photographic tour of Center-City Springfield will take us is West Commercial Street. If you have not read the introduction to this tour, now would be the time for that.
Here is a street shot from the west end of what you might call “Historic Commercial Street”, looking east:
Commercial Street is a funny character. The occupancy rate is still quite low, and there are miserable-looking vacant or neglected historic buildings everywhere. And yet… there are tons of first-class residential lofts, and numerous photography studios, design & marketing firms, art galleries, top-notch office spaces, beautiful streetscaping, and several classy entertainment establishments. Really, the best word to describe it is “weird”.
The first thing we’ll come to, starting from the west end, is the Belmonte, which is run by Springfield’s Vineyard Church. The Belmonte started out right downtown, where it had a slightly larger space, and was known for fairly regular weekly concerts. It was, and still is, a pretty hip place… some say too hip. But they’re good people, and they really want to reach out to their generation of skeptics and agnostics through the use of a common, comfortable, creative space. As it is now, I’m still trying to figure out what their goal is for the current facility. But still, I feel like I have more in common with this group than most Christians in Springfield. Here’s two shots of the Belmonte:
Next is a dual shot of Lindberg’s (left), the oldest continually operating pub in Springfield (over 100 years) and a future photography studio. Although it’s had some straggly years along the way, Lindberg’s is now beautifully restored, with wads of gorgeous hardwood. It’s truly a classic pub. The only drawback is all the smoke, and the too-loud blues jam stuff they like to play live.
On the right is the up-and-coming Freedom Photography, the studio of my cousins, Matt & Heidi Giles. The upstairs is nearly finished, and ready for them to move into with their adopted son, Isaiah. If you go to the website, you’ll see some stunning pictures of the work they’ve done. Downstairs has a little ways to go yet, but you can already tell it’ll be a first-class studio space.
One excellent addition to the Commercial Street scene recently, was that of a cozy coffee house. This one is called Big Momma’s, and it’s got great food and coffee, and is extremely cozy up front, where the coffee bar is. Fortunately, they have a big room in back where there’s plenty of space for concerts, dramas, and other events. The Core has even put some thought into establishing a second Worship Gathering here.
To end our tour of West Commercial Street, I’ll take you to the Firehouse Courtyard, where our friend Kelly Stevens will be marrying her German fiance, Julius, this September. Apart from all the other things I mentioned, C-Street has several funky open spaces, some elegant like this one, and others