The city council of Joliet, Illinois, this week entered into a five-year lease to take some responsibility for the historic but long-closed and deteriorating Joliet Correctional Center.
The Herald News reported about the deal for the prison, which has been closed by the state of Illinois since 2002:
The state retains ownership, while city officials said the five-year lease provides an opportunity to explore potential uses of the prison and possibly stem the deterioration that has occurred since it was shut down. […]
He said the city has not budgeted any money for the prison and would not be pouring funds into it. But the city is negotiating with other parties interested in the prison. […]
Quinn Adamowski, co-chairman of a prison acquisition committee with Joliet Area Historical Museum Director Greg Peerbolte, urged the City Council to approve the agreement.
“There are people who are extremely interested in the project,” Adamowski said. “They see potential there. What they are trying to do is find a way to preserve the property for the public trust.”
Adamowski noted there is “international interest” in the prison.
The Joliet Patch, which also reported about the agreement, provided background about the old prison:
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk has been a huge proponent of revitalizing the historic Joliet Prison, a limestone fortress built in 1858 and made famous by “The Blue Brothers” movie. Over the past year, there were several arsons that destroyed a couple of the old prison buildings within the walls. The continued blight alarmed many historic preservationists who see the prison as a goldmine for Joliet. A number of other cities across the U.S. have had tremendous success in turning their old prisons into major tourist attractions.
Joliet for several years has wanted to take over ownership of the prison complex so it could give paid tours.
Joliet Correctional Center shouldn’t be confused with Stateville Correctional Center, which sits in nearby Crest Hill, Illinois, along Illinois 53 (aka Route 66) and still is being used.
(Image of the Joliet Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, by JymPolranges via Flickr)