Captain David L. Allen

  • Came to Decatur in 1828 from Virginia with $1600 in cash and a land grant of 160 acres. He purchased 80 acres in what is now the heart of the city when he came here.
  • Brought his bride here in 1830.
  • Their first home was a log cabin that Allen built many additions onto.
  • His house on the 400 block of N. Water St. was the first two-story building in Decatur. It was also where the First Baptist church was organzed in 1843. This site later became the Leath’s Furniture Store (Renaissance Church today).
  • He later built another home with the octagonal tower on the south bank of the Sangamon River (Allen’s Bend). Later, this was the site of the Mueller Lodge.
  • In 1839, Capt. Allen and Dr. Thomas Read (brothers-in-law) built Macon House (later Revere House). This is now the site of the public library. This hotel was known throughout the area as a fine hotel, and became a headquarters for lawyers.
  • Tried to draw businesses to the Central Park area instead of the Old Square (Lincoln Square) area. This two square setup later caused a lot of rivalry and tore the town apart.
  • Built a grist and sawmill at the end of what later became Maffit St. A dam was built across the Sangamon River for power. Across the river from the mill was a lime kiln, considered Decatur’s first industry.
  • Allen donated land on July 10, 1855 to the city with the understanding that the land would have no other purpose than as a park. For 20 years, the park was only used for hitching racks by visiting farmers, and was hilly and covered in hazelbrush and weeds.
  • Invested his profits into new enterprises so much that he usually had little reserve for himself when times were tough. By the time he died in 1884, most of his holdings were gone.
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