HISTORY OF BROADGAUGE

est 1872

Built in 1872, the Broadgauge was the leading store in the community and had the largest stock of merchandise in Illinois outside of Chicago. According to local poet Edgar Lee Masters, “John Brahm had built the stone faced bank on the corner with its marble columns, and the large store on the corner, always called the “broad-gauge”, and a very fine store it was, finished inside in walnut, with counters of walnut, and shelves back of them on which were goods not surpassed in quality and variety in the stores of Springfield.”  Brahm, a  wealthy merchant and banker, whose legend has it built the Broadgauge on one days earnings on the Chicago grain market. He was the wealthiest man in the community at one point, but lost all he had and died a penniless man. 

By 1890, Brahm had sold the building to the Schirding family, who then owned it until 1950. During this time numerous entities worked out of this location, most notably the Robbins Company in 1939. It later led to the Robbins family purchasing the property in 1950, who operated  a successful clothing and shoe store until 1998. The building was purchased by the Winchesters who operated the Estep and Associate Mercantile until 2020.