One hundred years ago, our neighborhood was just beginning to take shape. The 1900 census tables for Bloomington show that there were about 150 people living in the northern part of the neighborhood, making up just about 30 families, mostly in houses all along First Street between Morton and Walker with a few also on Morton and Rogers.
Two big swaths of land on the east side of Rogers were starting to be developed: both the Matthew Campbell Addition north of Grimes and the Dodds Addition south of Grimes were platted into house lots in the 1800s. Along Rogers and Madision streets in these two additions, clustered on either side of Grimes, are about 30 houses built in a style known as a “gable-el” house.
A common style of the late 1800s, this features a section on one side with an “A” shaped front (formed by the end of a gable roof), and another section at right angles to the first, forming an “L”, with its “A” shaped gable end facing to the side. Where these two sections come together is space for a compact front porch. See photographs of gable-el houses in McDoel.
What else was here in McDoel in 1900?
There was farmland: the Dodds family was still farming the parcel of land west of Rogers and south of Grimes.
The Gentry Brothers circus had its winter quarters on the Gentry farm, farther north along Rogers in what is now the Dixie Highway Addition.
Illustration from article on the Gentry Brothers Famous Shows, by Charles A. Sprague, in Bandwagon, published by the Circus Historical Society, January-February 1971, p. 5.
Illustration from poster reproduced in Sprague article, p. 8.
The Monon Route had its yards along Morton by the tracks, stone mills were located along the east side of the tracks just outside the neighborhood, and small stone quarries dotted the area as well.