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  • Writer's pictureTJ Blakeman

1 East Main Street

There is no better place to start this blog than 1 Main Street.  The first building constructed on this site was Barrett Hall and was one of the first brick structure's in the city.  

It was completed in 1865 on the northeast corner of Main and Neil Streets.  What made this particular building (and address) unique is that it was numbered 1 Main Street and not 2 Main Street.  This section of Main Street is the only section in town to this day where you will find the odd number structure on the north side of the street.  Everywhere else in Champaign the odd number appears on the south side of the street.  It is said this happened because of the fact that it was in deed the first brick structure on Main Street.  

Barrett Hall is also notable because it functioned as one of the first public gather places in town.  Notable speakers included Fredrick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony.  The building was razed in 1950 and replaced by Grants Department Store.  

A more modern 1950s structure rose from the site.

When W.T. Grants closed in 1975 and was replaced by a disco called the Poison Apple.

This structure survived until a devastating fire in 1987 gutted all of the buildings along Main Street and severely damaged the Grants Building.

The building was finally razed in the late 80's making way for a municipal parking lot.

The City Parking lot would remain until 2003.

In 2003, local business man Cody Sokolski and gaming business owner Mike Kulas worked together to build a new mixed use building to house Volition Inc, as well as a mic of restaurants, office space, and condos. One Main Development was formed and their first building was One Main which was constructed on the former Grants site.

The building was completed in 2004 and represented the first significant new construction in Downtown in 1981.

Notable businesses that have occupied 1 Main Street: Barrett Hall

  • Swannell Drug Store

  • Weingarten's

  • Browns Business School

  • Vaky (The Frat) Confectionery

  • McBrides Drug Store

Grants Building

  • Grants Department Store

  • The Poison Apple

One Main Building

  • Jim Gould Restaurant

  • KoFusion

  • Merry Ann's Diner

  • Big Grover Tavern

Photo Credits: Champaign County Historical Archives at the Urbana Free library, Champaign County History Museum, and Brandon Haist

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