The town was laid out in 1870 by the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. The plan is unusual in that one of the principal streets, Clarinda Avenue, is at a 45-degree angle to the grid, and this avenue is attached to a segment of a circle, South Crescent Street. The theme of the circle is repeated in the northeast section of town in the layout of the cemetery. The civic center of the community lies at the intersection of Clarinda Avenue, Church Street, and Thomas Street. Here one will come upon City Hall, the First Baptist Church, the First Christian Church, the First United Methodist Church, Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church, and a Civil War memorial column.
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