Local teens determined to save African-American landmark in Springfield - News - The State Journal-Register - Springfield, IL

Monroe took in a few children and elderly people and made a down payment of $125 on a dilapidated house at 427 S. 12th St. She spent much of her time raising money to make her mortgage payments until wealthy Springfield socialite Mary Lawrence made the orphanage one of her causes. Lawrence was the mother of the then-recently widowed Susan Lawrence Dana, and in 1902, Susan Lawrence Dana commissioned famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright to rebuild the Lawrence residence at Fourth Street and Lawrence Avenue, which is now the Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site. Mary Lawrence offered to build a new orphanage at the same time the Lawrence house was being rebuilt, with the building to be deeded in her name, an offer Monroe accepted. Lawrence had the existing home razed and had a new Lincoln Colored Home completed in 1904. The home at one time housed as many as 60 to 70 orphans and indigent elderly. It operated as an orphanage until 1933, when the state refused to license it, probably because of Monroe's lack of a college education and social work training, as well as a shift in thinking that favored adoption and foster parenting over institutions. Monroe then took in boarders and even rented out part of the house to a barbershop.


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