News - Joliet and Will County

Casseday House makes it to new Joliet site safe and sound

The Casseday House can be seen at its new location near the corner of Youngs Avenue and East Jackson Street on Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2020, in Joliet, Ill.

It took longer than expected, but the 169-year-old, limestone Casseday House arrived intact at its new location Monday night after being moved four blocks.

“Everything held together real good,” David DeVooght, who with the help of his work crew guided the 560-ton house down Jackson Street for about 14 hours, said Tuesday morning. “We didn’t put any stress on it.”

DeVooght said the house was completely off of Jackson Street at about 9:30 p.m. The street had been scheduled for closure until 7 p.m. for the move, but snowfall the day before made conditions sluggish.

Getting the house off its original site at 411 E. Jackson Street was slow because of mushy ground.

"With the mud and the snow, a little slipping and sliding, we had to adjust a couple of things to get traction," DeVooght said.

He described conditions on the site at Jackson near Youngs Avenue, where the Casseday House is now, as “six inches of mud and two swimming pools” on Monday. “However, we were able to haul in some gravel and level out the site,” DeVooght said.

DeVooght House Movers out of Valders, Wisconsin, will be on the site at least a couple of more weeks doing what's needed to set the house on a new foundation.

Timing depends on what work is allowed under coronavirus restrictions. DeVooght said he has been trying to find out whether he can bring workers from Wisconsin and the company's main office in New Jersey into Illinois to finish the job.

The hauling of the house brought out spectators, although probably not as many as would have appeared during normal times when a stay-at-home coronavirus order would not have been in effect.

Among those who came was Mary Beth Gannon, who led a grass roots effort to save the house that is the oldest standing residence for which the city has a known date of origin.

"I knew the move was coming, but I never thought it would happen," Gannon said Tuesday.

Gannon came out with her children to Jackson Street, keeping distance from others out of coronavirus precaution but unable to resist seeing the move.

"It's something I can tell my grandchildren about and my children can tell their grandchildren about," she said. "It was something once in a lifetime to see."

The house built for George Casseday in 1851 will become a museum for local African-American history under its new ownership, the Will County Historical Society.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Sandy Vasko, executive director of the society. “It was almost surreal to see it going down the street and knowing all of it was really going to happen.”

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News