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East Side National Register

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Map | Site Description | Architectural Overview | Statement of Significance |
Boundary Description  | History

Architectural Overview

In 1831, fertile soil, soft coal, and limestone deposits lured settlers to what is now Joliet. The Joliet East Side Historic District played an important role in developing the town as it attracted the area’s most wealthy people. Most of the architecturally notable residences were constructed between 1873 and 1900 when the neighborhood was the “Silk Stocking District."

Much development in the area took place after 1873 when wealthy railroad magnate Jacob A. Henry built his imposing Second Empire mansion. Henry’s arrival and his mansion created the impetus for other wealthy people to move in and create more residential development. The mansion itself covers 16,800 square feet, is constructed with some of the largest limestone slabs ever locally quarried, and was listed on the National Register in 1978.

Numerous examples of Queen Anne in pure and modified forms are in the district, as are many homes of Italianate and Georgian Revival styles. A smaller number of residences of Victorian/Collegiate Gothic, Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival, and Prairie School styles may also be found.

Among the old houses in the district is Joliet’s only surviving, intact block of 19th century commercial row buildings. Built in the 1880’s, these Washington Street buildings once housed a grocery, bakery, drugstore, hardware store, and barbershop. Beauty within the district is enhanced by original limestone curbs, street names in sidewalk tiles, and decorative Victorian streetlights.