In 1983, Newsweek featured Springfield in its 50th anniversary issue, entitled, "The American Dream." It chronicled the impact of the past 50 years on five local families. In 2004, Springfield was chosen as an "All-America City". In 2012, Springfield was named the "most depressed city in America" by the The Gallup Organization after a three-year survey.
Springfield traces its early growth to the National Road, which ended in Springfield for approximately 10 years as politicians wrangled over the path it would continue. Dayton and Eaton wanted the road to veer south after Springfield, but President Andrew Jackson made the final decision to have the road continue straight west to Richmond, Indiana.
At the turn of the 20th century Springfield became known as the "Home City." Several lodges including the Masonic Lodge, Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows built homes for orphans and aged members of their order. Springfield also became known as "The Champion City"..a reference to the Champion brand of farm equipment manufactured by the Warder, Bushnell & Glessner Company, which was later absorbed into International Harvester in 1902. International remains in Springfield as Navistar International, a producer of medium to large trucks.
In 1902 A.B. Graham, then the superintendent of schools for Springfield Township in Clark County, established a "Boys' and Girls' Agricultural Club." Approximately 85 children from 10 to 15 years of age attended the first meeting on January 15, 1902 in Springfield, Ohio, in the basement of the Clark County Courthouse.
This was the start of what would be called the "4-H Club" within a few years, quickly growing to a nationwide organization. (4-H stands for "Head, Heart, Hands, and Health"). The first "projects" included food preservation, gardening and elementary agriculture. Today, the Courthouse still bears a large 4H symbol under the flag pole at the front of the building to commemorate its part in founding the organization. The Clark County Fair is the second largest fair in the state (only the Ohio State Fair is larger) in large part to 4H still remaining very popular in the area.
On March 7, 1904, over a thousand Springfield residents formed a lynch mob, stormed the jail and removed prisoner Richard Dixon, a black man accused of murdering police officer Charles B. Collis. Richard Dixon was shot to death and then hung from a pole on the corner of Fountain and Main Street, where the mob continued to shoot his lifeless body.
The mob then proceeded to burn much of the black area of town. In February 1906, another mob formed and again burned the black section of town known as "the levee". Sixty years later, Springfield was the first city in the US to have a black mayor, Robert Henry.
From 1916 to 1926, 10 automobile companies operated in Springfield. Among them: The Bramwell, Brenning, Foos, Frayer-Miller, Kelly Steam, Russell-Springfield and Westcott. The Westcott, known as the car built to last, was a six-cylinder four-door sedan manufactured by Burton J. Westcott of the Westcott Motor Car Company. Burton and Orpha Westcott however, are better known for having contracted the world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design their home in 1908 at 1340 East High Street.
International Harvester (now Navistar), manufacturer of farm machinery and later trucks, became the leading local industry after Springfield native William Whitely invented the self-raking reaper and mower, in 1856. It held that position, along with Crowell-Collier Publishing, throughout most of the next century.
The Westcott House, a sprawling two-story stucco and concrete house has all the features of Wright's prairie style including horizontal lines, low-pitched roof, and broad eaves. It is the only Frank Lloyd Wright prairie style house in the state of Ohio. The property was purchased in 2000 by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (Chicago, IL), and as part of a prearranged plan, the house was then sold to a newly formed local Westcott House Foundation. The Westcott House Foundation managed the extensive 5 year, $5.3 million restoration, the house was fully restored to its original glory in October 2005, when it officially opened to the public for guided tours.
Springfield is home to two institutions of higher learning, Wittenberg University and Clark State Community College.
Wittenberg University is a Lutheran university that was founded in Springfield in 1845. It is a four-year private liberal arts university. It has more than two thousand students and a faculty of more than one hundred ninety five. It is situated on a campus of one hundred and fourteen rolling acres, shaded by many majestic trees. It is one of the most highly rated liberal arts universities in the nation, offering more than seventy majors, which include those in the sciences as well as in the arts. Wittenberg has more than one hundred fifty campus organizations, which include ten national fraternities and sororities.
It has its own WUSO radio station and newspaper. The University is best known for its music department and its athletic endeavors. Wittenberg is also distinguished by its strong interdisciplinary programs such as East Asian Studies and Russian Area Studies. Recently majors in Management, Communication, Education are also becoming popular. The University made major renovations to its science facilities with the opening of the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center in 2003.
The city is also home to Clark State Community College. Clark State Community College was founded in 1962 under the name of the Springfield and Clark County Technical Education Program as a technical education college for Clark County, Ohio and the surrounding area. It changed its name in 1966 to Clark County Technical Institute.
The Ohio Board of Regents accredited it as Ohio's first technical college. It is now called Clark State Community College and has more than one thousand students. It offers courses in business, health, public services, engineering technologies, agriculture and general studies.
Income & Housing Costs Numbers:
Estimated median household income in 2009: $32,412 (it was $32,193 in 2000)
Estimated median house or condo value in 2009: $86,865 (it was $69,300 in 2000)
Mean prices in 2009: All housing units: $102,474; Detached houses: $103,353; Townhouses or other attached units: $102,927; In 2-unit structures: $80,011; In 3-to-4-unit structures: $118,828; In 5-or-more-unit structures: $124,808; Mobile homes: $34,973
Median gross rent in 2009: $605.
Jan. 2011 cost of living index in Springfield: 93.3 (less than average, U.S. average is 100)
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