Whoa. This year’s Illinois History Conference will have a panel on Route 66 – sounds like your scriveners here are going legit! Yes, fellow roadies, friends and neighbors, Joe, Keith and I had our proposal for a panel on Route 66 in Illinois accepted earlier this spring, and now we’re busy oranizing that for the history conference that will be held on Thursday and Friday, September 25-26 in Springfield, IL. Wheee!!! We’re so excited that the route is getting scholarly Respect in this manner (not to mention that we get to put in a modest plug for our in-progress Route 66 book). More important, it’s happening right before the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival car show in Springfield (it’s that very weekend), and anyone who’s coming to that and wants to attend our session at the conference can still register for it (see p. 2 of the downloadable PDF conference flyer).
Our panel session on Route 66 is scheduled on Friday, September 26 from 1:45 pm to 3:15 pm at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield, just west of Historic U.S. Route 66/Business Interstate 55. That puts us just down the street from the Adams Street headquarters of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. One-day registration for Friday’s sessions, which begin at 8:30 am, is $50 in advance, $55 on site. If you wish to attend the luncheon that day, that’s another $25; see the conference flyer for further details. But look at it this way: if you’re already going to be in Springfield for the Mother Road Festival, why not take in a session about Route 66, too? After all, how often do you get to do that?
If you’ve been reading this blog faithfully, by now you know that the historic former St. Mary Carmelite Catholic Church in downtown Joliet, IL is up for auction later this month – at a bottom-of-the-barrel price that the Diocese of Joliet would never have sold it for a few years ago … which means that the 1882 Gothic Revival church building is once again imperiled and in danger of being demolished. We posted that about a week ago.
The church was already headed for demolition a few years ago when developer Scott Henry of Northbrook, IL-based Celadon Holdings, LLC acquired the property from the diocese, with the intent of turning the building and the 1960s-built priory next door into senior housing for people 55 and older. Almost everyone was thrilled with that prospect.
The former St. Mary Carmelite Catholic Church could be torn down by year end, unless someone saves the historic structure by Oct. 23. Photo copyright 2012 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved.
The former St. Mary Carmelite Church property at 101 N. Ottawa St. in downtown Joliet is in immediate peril – it’s scheduled to go to auction on October 23rd, less than a month from now. Although developer Scott Henry of Celadon Holdings, Northbrook, IL, and his Joliet NFP agency partner, Better Tomorrows, have been trying to turn this property into senior housing that would preserve this historic building and Route 66 landmark in Joliet, a number of factors have forced the sale of the property – and not all of the factors or the motivation behind them are clear, at this point. St. Mary Carmelite needs an angel investor or rescuer to act quickly if this priceless historic building is to be saved from the auction block. Time to act.
The severely endangered St. Mary Carmelite Church on Route 66 in Joliet, IL is in peril of being sold and demolished. Photo copyright 2013 by K. Yearman; all rights reserved
St. Mary Carmelite is landmark worthy: it is the second oldest surviving church building in Joliet. designed by the same architect who designed Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral, Patrick C. Keeley, and completed in 1882. Henry and Celadon had applied for local and state landmark status and had submitted a request for preliminary determination of eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places. The church was closed in 1991, and the attached priory, Fiat House, closed in 2009.
So we’ve been following the brouhaha over the roof situation at the Rich & Creamy ice cream stand on Broadway Street/IL 53 in Joliet. The fuss is between the stand’s current operators, who rent it, and the landlord, which is the city of Joliet. The stand is an official Route 66 Roadside Attraction, so of course Route 66 aficionados are concerned about its preservation.
The operators figured roof repairs would cost about $19,000, according to one estimate they’d received. The city manager, Tom Thanas, balked at paying that much and hinted that maybe the stand should simply be torn down … until people began complaining and sending him e-mail (which we encouraged). My colleague Joe Kubal, a contributor to this blog, sent his own protest e-mail. But look at the reply Mr. Thanas sent (below): suddenly, his estimate of roof repairs has ballooned to $30,000. WHY??? What could possibly cost that much?
Well! At least one Route 66 roadie (that I know of, anyway) decided to let Joliet, IL City Manager Tom Thanas know that tearing down the Rich & Creamy ice cream stand at 920 N. Broadway St. would be a bad idea. Considering that Route 66 tourists make a special stop to spend their money at the stand, which is an official Route 66 Roadside Attraction on the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, tearing down something that helps bring money and tourists into Joliet seems crazy to us. We hope you agree.
The historic Rich & Creamy ice cream stand on Broadway Street in Joliet, Illinois is an official Route 66 Historic Attraction. Photo copyright 2012 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved