Great Deeds & Great Minds
Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city…
Start your tour in Downtown Joliet
JOLIET AREA HISTORICAL MUSEUM & RIALTO SQUARE THEATRE
Before you go to the museum, you may want to take a scroll past the Rialto Square Theatre at 15 E Van Buren St. It was built in 1926 as a vaudeville movie palace and is a spectacular piece of architecture. Also stop and have your photo taken with the Marx Brothers Silhouette Statue outside the theater. They lived nearby in Countryside and performed at the Rialto at the beginning of their career.
On the way back to the museum, enjoy several other fine examples of early 20th century architecture from when Joliet was busy producing steel. The Joliet Museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits and a Welcome Center for Route 66.
Near the Joliet Area Historical Museum, 204 N Ottawa St. Check their website for hours. Free parking is available in the museum parking lot at the corner of Ottawa and Webster Streets. Metered parking is available curbside and there are other parking lots and garages within a 2 block walk with modest fees.
Continue on to Lockport
ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM, GAYLORD BUILDING, WILL COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM & RESEARCH CENTER & GLADYS FOX MUSEUM
Start your Lockport tour at the Public Landing. Once a bustling spot where wagons loaded with grain met canal boats, it is now a park and parking lot. Read the interpretive panels for more history. Lockport offers four museums and a few restaurants within walking distance. Be sure to visit the impressive stone warehouses at either end of the landing.
The Norton Building, to your south, houses a gallery of the Illinois State Museum. It features works created by past and contemporary Illinois artists and artisans.
Walk to the north along the I&M Canal (Gaylord Donnelley Trail) to the other end of the Public Landing. Enjoy the Lincoln Landing Park along the way and the unique sculpture of Lincoln. The first building you come to is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Gaylord Building with canal exhibits, visitor information and the Public Landing Restaurant.
Up the hill from the Gaylord Building, is another museum. The white frame building that now houses the Will County Historical Museum & Research Center at State and 8th streets (803 S State St.) was once the I&M Canal Commission headquarters. Learn about the canal builders who worked here, and see early artifacts.
Further up the hill is the Gladys Fox Museum, 231 East 9th Street. The museum is located in the Old Congregational Church, built in 1839. Beautifully restored, this historic building is now home to the museum’s collection of historical photographs and memorabilia celebrating Dellwood Park and the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
The free parking lot at 10th Ave. and the I&M Canal.
WHERE TO EAT
Make your way to Lemont
ST. JAMES AT SAG BRIDGE CHURCH AND CEMETARY
Begin your visit to Lemont at St. James at Sag Bridge Church and Cemetery. Here you will see a beautiful limestone Roman Catholic Church constructed in the 1850s on a hill above Archer Avenue. The parish was founded in 1833 by Irish canal workers, many of whom are buried in its adjoining cemetery. A rough log cabin served as the first church building and was located directly on the original Native American trail, which later became Archer Avenue.
Consecrated in 1837, the St. James at Sag Bridge Cemetery contains the graves of numerous Civil War veterans. The limestone Stations of the Cross lining the church and cemetery walkway were constructed in the 1920s and donated by parishioners in memory of deceased family members. The land on which both the church and cemetery are situated was purchased and later donated by two early Irish settlers, John Sullivan and James Murphy. Their direct descendants are still active parishioners today.
St. James at Sag Bridge, 10600 S. Archer Ave., Lemont, IL 60439. There is free parking available at the church. Learn more about this historic church and environs when you visit the website.
Continue on to downtown Lemont
Lemont’s impressive church spires and cozy neighborhoods rise on the bluffs above its downtown and three waterways – the narrow I&M Canal, the wide and bustling Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, and the marshy Des Plaines River.
Shop, dine, and enjoy Lemont’s 19th century architecture or walk its 5-mile canal trail segment. Observe the native yellow limestone in Lemont’s canal walls, its scenic hills, and vibrant downtown businesses. Chicago’s famed Water Tower owes its construction to the tons of yellow stone shipped to Chicago by canal from Lemont.
The many public art displays found downtown tell compelling stories from the community’s history. Be sure to see the large mural at Budnik Plaza on Stephen Street and mosaics throughout the downtown depicting Lemont’s quarrying past. You’ll also see the life story of local aviator Rudy Kling depicted in the “Pride of Lemont” mural on Front Street.
Lemont’s compact and walkable village center is a charming oasis offering numerous boutiques, unique shops, excellent dining, and a wine store and event venue – Bottles, located at 439 Talcott Ave. Lemont also boasts a popular brewpub, Pollyanna Brewing Co, 431 Talcott Ave, offering trivia nights, live music, tours and other events in addition to their fine lineup of four flagship beers and seasonal brews.
Check out the exhibits, library and gift shop at the Lemont Area Historical Society and Museum, located at 418 Main St. Situated on the south side of downtown in Lemont’s historic Old Stone Church, a building which once served as a recruiting station during the Civil War, the Museum is open five days a week. The Historical Society offers walking tours of downtown Lemont.
Downtown on the street or adjacent to the I&M Canal. There is parking available in several village lots such as the Waterworks Parking Lot, located immediately east of Stephen Street and north of the I&M Canal; and the Lemont Street Lot, located at the north terminus of Lemont Street at the canal. Four-hour on-street parking is offered from 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday at numerous locations, including Lemont Street, from Illinois Street to the I&M Canal; Front Street; and Main Street, from Stephen Street to Fremont Street.