Did you know that the first Center School in Morris was located in downtown Morris on Jackson Street? This public grade school opened classes in 1853 and was located where Halkyard Family Dental now sits.
You can learn more about this building and 21 others by taking the self-guided walking tour of the Morris Downtown Commercial Historic District.
The tour is available on a tri-fold flyer, available at several downtown businesses, in downtown rack card holders and at the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and Grundy County Historical Society Museum. Additionally, it can be downloaded from the Morris Downtown Development Partnership’s website, www.downtownmorris.com. A detailed audio version also is available on this site.
So why a walking tour? Walking is an activity that almost everyone can enjoy, and downtown Morris is a great place to do that! Some research suggests that a walk of about 2 miles, or about 40 minutes at a typical pace, is an ideal length to help maintain fitness. Although this walking tour may not be exactly 2 miles, it will give you a great start. And you can learn more about the history of downtown Morris at the same time. The Morris Downtown Development Partnership plans to develop additional walking tours that could focus on adjacent neighborhoods, parks and the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
Back to Center School. Many remember the Center School located on Division Street. In 1876, this stone structure was built to replace the original school. In 1930, Dr. Fred Graham purchased the original building at 11 E. Jackson for his dentist office, and it remains a dental office today.
As you wander downtown for this walking tour, be on the lookout for plaques on some of the buildings that highlight the building’s history. Other building owners are encouraged to call the Morris Downtown Development Partnership regarding our Historic Building Plaque Program.
So let’s get out and “Walk Morris.” And while you’re at it, visit our great shops and restaurants located in our historic downtown.
• Julie Applegate is the executive director of the Morris Downtown Development Partnership.