Smile Politely

Here’s a bit of interesting history about the Spiros Law building

According to a post by Weiss Lancaster in the Champaign Urbana History Facebook group, the Haley-Walker-Ginza building was originally a sanitarium for treatment of tuberculosis. After being closed for a time, it was reopened during the Spanish Flu epidemic. 

The building officially known as the Haley-Walker-Ginza building, but lovingly known as “The Ginza” by many of us and now the Spiros Law, P.C. building by a growing number thanks to its current owners, was originally built by Dr. Henry A. Haley in 1901 as a hospital or “sanitarium” for the treatment of tuberculosis. TB had no cure, and doctors around the country and the world worked to find new treatments for the disease which killed more than 1% of Americans annually. The Haley Sanitarium, with around 30 individual patient rooms, was one of the largest hospitals in the region. Haley focused on water treatments: therapies included steam baths, hot and cold showers, and even a swimming pool. Those treatments were apparently not terribly successful, and he eventually closed the facility. However, the building re-entered service as a hospital during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

When we renovated the building in 2010-2011, we found lots of evidence of Haley’s innovations as well as some of the fixtures he’d no doubt used to dazzle lay people and potential clients. Among them several pairs of these rare “vaseline glass” doorknobs. With uranium fused into the molten glass during manufacture, they shine in daylight and fluoresce brightly in black light. For a nation obsessed with sanitation, they would have exuded science and technology.

A view from above of a desk, made of dark wood. A desk mat with an old newspaper background sits on the desk. There is an old doorknob with bright green glass knobs and a metal bowl filled with pine cones. Photo by Weiss Lancaster.Photo by Weiss Lancaster.

Lancaster did a video diary of the demolition and renovation of the building, which happened nearly 10 years ago. You can view all of those videos here.

Top photo by Weiss Lancaster. 

More Articles