JOLIET – Joliet residents were given a tour of “The Castle” and a nearby excavated site that soon will be home to a winery.
Phil Soto with Sehring Property Holdings led a tour with 11 visitors Saturday through a 19th century house on Bridge Street known as “The Castle” because of its limestone walls and turrets.
Sehring Property Holdings acquired the house, along with two other buildings nearby, and plans to use it for wine tasting, sales and events.
The developers plan to replicate the old brewery building at the site. During a cleanup of the site, they uncovered the foundation of the brewery.
“Luckily, this ‘Castle’ is in pretty good shape,” Soto said.
During the tour, Soto demonstrated that by knocking on the walls inside the house.
“All solid walls,” he said.
The house was built by brewer Frederick Sehring and later became the first home for bishops when the Diocese of Joliet was created in 1948.
Visitors walked through each room in the house, seeing stained glass windows, chimneys with ornate tiling and wood carving, the library, the kitchen, the dining room and some diocesan artifacts.
Some construction work has been done inside the house to explore other aspects of its structure, such as opening up the ceilings in the rooms.
“We’re doing what we can so we can see what’s there,” Soto said.
The tour took guests down to the basement of the house, where they were able to see a room with a vault and another room that happened to have an old wine rack. In another room, work was being done to dig into a floor that appeared to be poured with concrete to see what lay beneath it.
The next stop of the tour was over a hilly area to an excavated site revealing small cistern-like structures and more limestone, which impressed the guests. The site will be used for processing the wine.
Soto has said Sehring Property Holdings is aiming to have the winery operating by fall so it can have its first grape crushing for the wine, but it wouldn’t be open to the public then. He has said it takes a year and a half to get wine ready for consumption.
Diane Harris, a Joliet Public Library District board trustee and Joliet City Council candidate in the April election, was on the tour and said the winery will be a dynamic addition to the city.
“It’s definitely right in line with what Joliet needs,” she said.