Joliet City Council Votes Tonight On Old Will County Courthouse

At Monday night’s Pre-Council meeting of the Joliet City Council, over two dozen supporters of preserving the 1969 Will County Courthouse building from all over Joliet and Will County told council members that this building should be preserved–not destroyed as the Will County government intends.

Only one supporter of demolishing the Old Courthouse showed up, representing the office of the Will County Executive. Three County Board members attended to support preservation.
The City Council was discussing the unanimous recommendation of the Joliet Historic Preservation Commission that this building be designated a Local Landmark. Local Landmark designation would require the county government to engage with the Joliet city government and get approval before being able to pull a city demolition permit.
Supporters pointed out that the Old Courthouse has attracted interest from all over Illinois and the United States, including from six developers who responded to a Request for Expressions of Interest with proposals to turn the building into a community destination.

The Will County government’s main point was that the County Board already voted, in 2019, to demolish the building. Preservation supporters responded:

“This is the most prominent, important, and historic location in Joliet. If this building comes down, downtown Joliet gets the largest demolition project in our region’s history and is dominated by a pile of rubble until this City Council decides to help fund a very expensive new building project on the site.”

“If you care about the vitality of downtown Joliet, you know we have hurt our downtown with each demolition. Vacant lots attract no visitors. But adaptive reuse does.”

“The future of this building, and our downtown with it, does not belong to the Will County government. It is Joliet’s concern, it is our concern, and when you vote on the Local Landmark recommendation, it will be your decision.”

Through their questions, several City Council members showed willingness to consider delaying demolition in order to explore the viability of redevelopment alternatives.
The Joliet City Council will vote on the Local Landmark recommendation at its regular meeting TONIGHT, Tuesday, September 19, at 6:30 pm, in the City Council chamber on the second floor of City Hall, 150 W. Jefferson Street. All who support saving the Old Courthouse should join. There will be an opportunity for public comment at the start of the meeting.

Hudson Hollister