BY THOMAS C. PAVLIK JR.
When you’re open for business in the same community for more than five decades, you’ve probably done a few things right. And let’s be honest: you’ve probably made a few well-intentioned mistakes, too. This year marks our 50th anniversary, and we’re proud to have served the capital city for the past half-century. I’m confident the Delano name will continue to serve our community for the next 50 years.
When we started to look back and how far we’ve come, it was hard to ignore the big part our community has played in our success. Because of that, it also became clear that we wanted to give back, specifically to those who are less fortunate and can benefit from our expertise the most. That’s why we donate our legal services to clients of Catholic Charities Legal Services. This type of legal work is just a small aspect of what we have done for our clients for over 50 years, and we are honored to be able to provide services to those who are unable to help themselves.
Being in business for 50 years is a testament to our business philosophy of treating those who come to us for help with respect and dignity, being fairly priced and, of course, getting positive results for our clients. It was a philosophy my father-in-law, Chick Delano, instilled from the day he opened the doors in 1967.
Chick truly cared about Springfield and its future. He wanted this community to thrive and grow, and he believed in the energy and charm of our downtown. He believed in it so much that he decided to relocate the Delano Law Offices within downtown in 1992, when many businesses were fleeing. Back then, downtown Springfield was in a recession; businesses were leaving downtown and heading out west, or leaving town altogether. One of those businesses, Roland’s Department store, had just ended its long and successful 70-year run at the corner of Sixth and Adams streets. Unfortunately, Roland’s was one of the last in a long line of businesses to close up shop as part of the slow downtown marketplace erosion over the previous decade.
Chick believed the downtown area was a special place and the true hub of our capital city. He took a risk in 1991 when he bought the Roland’s building, which had once been a place where prominent state and national leaders gathered back in the 1800s – including Elijah Iles, President Martin Van Buren and then-state senator Abraham Lincoln. After a year of renovation, Delano Law Offices began a new era in downtown Springfield and helped start a rejuvenation of the Sixth Street corridor, which is now one of the most traveled blocks in all of Springfield by residents and tourists alike.
More than 150 years before, this very same block that sits right across from the Lincoln-Herndon law office and the Old State Capitol was home to perhaps the most well-known hotel in Illinois. The American House was frequented by VIPs and dignitaries – a place where state and national leaders made key policy decisions. Over time, the popularity of the American House gave way to newer, more modern accommodations that opened as Springfield’s reputation and population boomed in the late 1800s.
Over the past 50 years, we’ve watched Springfield’s downtown fall in and out of grace, but the truth is that the Springfield business community has much control over the fate of downtown and Springfield in general. We as business leaders have to be committed to putting resources that matter into downtown and surrounding areas in order to attract more people downtown – which, by the way, has more significantly historic square footage than just about any other town in the Midwest.
We have to be willing to be a part of larger conversations that think bigger, bolder and better for Springfield’s future. And as a community, we have to be willing to do more than just wish for more business, health and lifestyle options. We have to be willing to support those businesses when they come to town.
Springfield isn’t just another town in central Illinois. As the state capital, Springfield represents all of Illinois. It’s time we change Springfield’s trajectory and give more businesses the chance to celebrate 50th anniversaries, but that will require a commitment by all of us to make Springfield an even better place to call home.
Thomas C. Pavlik Jr. is an attorney at Delano Law Offices, LLC.