Historian Hopes Joliet Mansion Can Be Moved, Not Razed

Bernie Tafoya
August 21, 2019 - 5:52 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- There’s a last-minute try being made to save a 168-year old limestone house from the wrecking ball on Joliet’s East Side. 

The Casseday Mansion at the corner of Jackson and Collins could be razed for a Thornton's gas station planned for that spot.

Historian Mary Beth Gannon calls the mansion "a gateway to our city.”

“It’s one of the first things you’re going to see when you go past our prison and go into town,” she adds.

Gannon said someone who owns a piece of nearby property is interested in moving the house to that location.

But at the Joliet City Council meeting this week, Thornton's lawyer Mike Hansen told aldermen the state’s historic preservation agency has signed off on plans to tear it down – a development he called “the final nail in the coffin.”

Rachel Torbert, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that oversees the historic preservation office, said the building is eligible to be listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Still, Torbert said, the state has agreed to allow Thornton's to tear down the mansion as long as the limestone from the building is preserved. Some of it would be used in a sign at the gas station. Other stone would be donated to the city of Joliet for its use.
 
Gannon is trying to rally people around saving the house.

"It’s one of our last two-story limestone homes in town. In its heyday, it was quite the showplace."

Gannon stresses she’s not against putting a gas station on the site. She just wonders why the house can’t be moved to make way for the commercial project.

Residents asked aldermen to try and delay the demolition to see if the relocation can occur.