Plans crystallizing for new location of Lockport’s Heritage Village
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org September 19, 2012 5:02PM
Sandy Vasco, President of the Will County Historical Society, cuts the ribbon opening Heritage Village in Lockport. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 21, 2012 2:47PM
LOCKPORT — The Heritage Village, a collection of historical buildings telling the story of Will County’s early decades, now has a new home.
Sandy Vasko, president of the Will County Historical Society, spoke Saturday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new site, southeast of Second Street and the Illinois & Michigan Canal. The ceremony came after the buildings were moved, by truck, from storage at the Chevron property to the new site across the canal.
Vasko discussed plans to expand the site beyond the original set of buildings, which were a familiar attraction for many years in downtown Lockport.
“Right here, where the patio is, will be the visitors center, and that will also be our loomhouse,” Vasko said. “We have three original looms that we’d like to set up.”
A blacksmith’s shop and barbershop also are in future plans, she said.
Vasko also discussed the history and future of the relocated buildings:
◆ One-room schoolhouse: The Wells Corner schoolhouse, built in 1857, was located at 163rd Street and Cedar Road in Homer Township. It was used as a school through the 1950s.
“We’d like school tours coming in,” Vasko said. “We’d like people coming in to have a whole-day experience about what it was like in a one-room schoolhouse. Quite different — no iPads, no phones.”
◆ Mokena jail: “Actually, it’s a calaboose,” Vasko said. “The local facility was a calaboose. The county facility was a jail. The state facility was a penitentiary.”
“We don’t know exactly when it was built. It was just two cells, and they were locked in there overnight. And that’s where they slept,” she said.
◆ Farmhouse: “We know that farmhouse was occupied in 1865. It is from the Crest Hill area,” Vasko said.
“The programming will be about the German heritage of our county,” she said, adding that Germans settled along the eastern border.
◆ Symerton railroad depot: The old Wabash depot, built in 1881, was located in Florence Township.
“We’re going to be talking about railroads, and how railroads helped build our community — in the east, here, all over,” Vasko said. “And eventually, we will be having a railroad track in front of it, and hopefully a railroad car on the track.”
◆ Other structures: The village also includes a smokehouse, built by the historical society, and a log cabin, which must be put back together, log by log, at the new site.
For more information on the site, call 815-838-5080 or visit www.willcountyhistoricalsociety.org.