JOLIET – Not much was left of the Eagle building by Thursday afternoon, and the structure was expected to be completely down by sometime Friday.
The demolition of the building at 20 W. Washington St. in downtown Joliet has been unremarkable.
There had been no effort to save the building, which dates back to 1903. In fact, Will County, which owns the property, had been wanting to get out of it for years.
“The building itself should have been torn down years ago, as bad as it was,” Will County Executive Larry Walsh Sr. said.
Sheriff’s investigative offices were moved last year to the old First Midwest Bank building kitty corner to the Eagle building site, which the county now owns. The Eagle building will be replaced by a parking lot, which, while not exciting, is highly desired.
The lot is likely to serve the Will County Courthouse across the street. Walsh said a final decision has not been made as to who gets the 21 spots in the parking lot. But, he added, “Whatever goes in there, it’s certainly going to be filled with 21 cars.”
The demolition project itself has been routine with the exception of the unexpected discovery of a time capsule inside the wall under a plaque marking the structure as the former home to the Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international civic club.
The capsule contained four old photographs of Eagles club members, but they were not encapsulated at the time of building construction.
One photograph of a volunteer band was from the 1930s, said Jim Ellis, county maintenance supervisor. Another showed Eagles members in good standing in the year 1950s. There also was an architect’s document, he said.
It was hard to detect a theme to the time capsule’s contents.
“Somebody’s going to have to do some research,” Ellis said.
The county has contacted the Eagles to notify them of the discovery.
One of the most remarkable things about the building itself has been the condition of the steel, Ellis said. There has been little sign of rust, and the steel has been in place for more than a century.
“The steel is impeccable,” Ellis said. “The major steel structure of the building is almost like the day it was put in.”
The steel will be recycled. So will the stone from the demolition.
“Next week, they bring in a rock crusher,” Ellis said. “This concrete will be dropped in there, and they’ll crush it to make gravel.”
The gravel will go into the parking lot, which is expected to be ready in July.
The demolition is being done by Gould Brothers LLC, which has some history of its own.
Mike Gould, one of the family owners, said the company was started by his grandfather in 1937. Gould Brothers demolished another downtown building in 1987, when the old Walgreens store on Chicago Street was torn down to create space for a library expansion.