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Springfield, Illinois

That Lithuanian history of Springfield (the capital of Illinois) is immortalized in one of just a few memorial plaques for Lithuanian-Americans that is located on the corner of 7th and Enterprise streets (near Enos park).

The initiative to build the plaque rested with Sandy Bakšys. She wanted in that way to immortalize the story of Lithuanians and the Lithuanian club which has been withering at the time as Lithuania was again out of media attention and the new generations often had a more diluted Lithuanian ethnicity.

It was that rebirth of Lithuania which united Springfield Lithuanians once again and made them to establish a Lithuanian Club in 1988. Currently, this community has one of the more informative websites and due to its activity, the memorial plaque has been erected.

Springfield once boasted a St. Vincent de Paul Lithuanian church (built in 1909 on the corner of 8th and Enos streets, not far away from the plaque). It was simple and towerless, surrounded by various Lithuanian clubs and collectives. Despite the opposition of the parishioners in has been closed in 1972 and torn down in 1976 (replaced by a parking lot). It was the final ethnic parish of Springfield. After that, Lithuanian life went off the radar for more than a decade until the club was established.

A long-time US congressman senator Richard Durbin (born to a Lithuanian mother) has lived in Springfield. He supported the memorial plaque and visited Lithuania on numerous occasions, supporting its independence before 1990.

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