Streetcar Diner’s new home


The Streetcar Diner at its new home in downtown Gardner, Ill. It will be repainted at a later date.

I received this e-mail today from Route 66 preservationist John Weiss:

The Streetcar Diner that was behind the Riviera has been moved onto its new space on the grounds of the two-cell jail in downtown Gardner. Before the move it was stripped down, sanded and primed by members of the Illinois Route 66 Preservation Committee. The major exterior work will be performed by residents of Gardner. We are thrilled to have their involvement.

The Riviera Roadhouse restaurant in Gardner, Ill., was destroyed by a suspicious fire in June. The long-closed Streetcar Diner sat behind the restaurant and was not harmed in the blaze.

But with no apparent caretaker on the property, Weiss and other Illinois Route 66ers grew concerned the streetcar would be vulnerable to vandals. They decided to relocate it near the grounds of Gardner’s 100-year-old two-cell jailhouse, where townsfolk could keep a better eye on it.

The Streetcar Diner began as a simple streetcar in Kankakee, Ill., in the early 20th century, was converted into a diner in Gardner in the 1930s, then became a cottage and playhouse a few years later. It finally was moved behind the Riviera in 1955.

(Photo courtesy of John Weiss)

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