Council 574 History

90 Year Anniversary Letter Detailing the Club’s History

(Written in 1991)

It was February, 1901.  A time remembered as the year after the Great Bloomington Fire.  A meeting was arranged by the Springfield Council with the cooperation of John J. Conon & Gus Ensenberger, between a national organizer from Connecticut and the men from the Catholic parishes of Bloomington.  It was at this first meeting in the Ensenberger store, enough signatures were obtained to establish our council.

In April, 1901, a degree team from Chicago council conferred the first three degrees.  The ceremony was held in a hall over the old post office located at Center and Front Steet, currently where the Montgomery Ward Building is located.  A banquet held in the Cooper Hall, located over the Guy Carlton Electric Shop followed the ceremony.  (The K of C purchased this property 47 years later.)

The first council in 1901 was located on the second floor of the Old Grand Opera House.  This building was located on the northwest corner of East and Market Streets.  J.J. Thompson was chosen as the first Grand Knight to preside over the local council.  (He was also elected the third State Deputy in 1904 to 1906.)

The K of C moved in 1909 to rooms over the Dewenter Building, on the southeast corner of Washington and Center Streets.

After four years, in 1913, the K of C relocated in the Cole Building which will be remembered by many as Kresges on the East side of the square.  The council occupied the second and third floors of the building.

In March of 1925, a meeting was held for the Knights to purchase the historic Snell residence, to form the Columbian Homes.  An association was formed to manage the financing and the property was acquired for $25,000.  The officers elected for the association were P.R. McHugh, President; J.J. Stack, Vice President; J.P. Lowry, Secretary; and Charles Kane and Emery Rhodes.  The officers planned to issue bonds in the amount necessary to carry on the project.  By December of 1927, final papers were signed, making the transfer of the Snell property complete.  This was made possible by the sale of $15,000 in bonds which was supervised by Grand Knight Owen McDonald.

The Snell home was a three story brick structure occupying the entire 1200 block of North Main on the West side of the street.  There was a reception hall, library, parlors, radio room, office and kitchen located on the first floor, the lodge, billiard room on the second floor, and the third floor housed the custodian, James Hassett and his family.  This club, after being completely remodeled, was considered one of the most elaborate club houses in the central section of the state.

In 1937, the Council moved to the Paxton Building, previously the C.U. Williams building located at 207-209 East Washington Street.  Club rooms were maintained there until 1944 when the Council moved to the upstairs of the Carlton building, at 26 1/2 North Main Street and remained there until 1954.

At that time, the Council relocated at the Duck Pin Bowling Alley (609 North Main Street).  In 1956 and 1957, the council seriously considered purchasing this property, but the decision was voted down.

In 1958, the K of C purchased the Carlton Building for $45,000 and moved back to the former club rooms.  The office and bar with a nice lounge occupied the first floor, the second floor was rented out to businesses and the third floor held the kitchen, ballroom, banquet and the billiard rooms.

In October 0f 1966, the Council was dedicated to Father John Ring.

On Sunday, July 29, 1973, the club rooms of the Carlton Building were destroyed by fire and damages were beyond repair, estimated to be $130,000.  Sam Stern graciously offered the use of the first floor rooms in his brick building on the South West corner of Center and Mulberry Streets, which is across from our present facility.  The Council had use of this building until it could locate new club rooms.

Three months later, on October 21, 1973, the K of C took possession of the Ranch House (704 McGregor Street) where they remained for 13 years.  After a fire on July 20, 1986 and a complete remodeling, the building was sold in February of 1988.

The K of C met in various church halls after the sale of the McGregor Street facility until the purchase of the building located at 525 North Center Street was made in October of 1988.

During Grand Knight Howard Cotton’s term of 1999 – 2002, a decision was made to build a new facility at 1706 R T Dunn Drive. As of 2024, this facility is still being used.

The Father John D Ring Council of the Knights of Columbus based in Bloomington has occupied twelve locations, has had 61 Grand Knights, and 50 Charter Members over the past 123 years and has had a three generation family of Knights, the Clothiers.  Columbian Homes has purchased five locations during this time.