News - Joliet and Will County

Joliet museum plans to recreate Slovenian grocery of 1929

The Joliet Area Historical Museum plans to recreate a neighborhood store at the  former grocery and meat market  at 1314 Elizabeth Street in Joliet, Ill.

The next museum project in Joliet is the re-creation of a 1929 neighborhood store.

The Joliet Area Historical Museum, along with the owners of a building that once housed a Slovenian meat market grocery, plans to bring back the flavor of the neighborhood business that lasted into the early 1990s.

The old Planinsek Meat and Grocery Store is located on the southeast corner of Elizabeth and Russell streets and has been unoccupied since the business closed.

The museum store will reflect a past era in Joliet, Greg Peerbolte, director of the Joliet Area Historical Museum, told the City Council at a workshop meeting on Monday.

The council on Tuesday approved a special use permit to allow the conversion of the building into a public museum.

Its location along historic Route 66 and near the Haunted Trails amusement park is expected to help draw attention to the museum when it opens.

Peerbolte said the project has been in the works for more than two years and will have a funding source to sustain the museum from the building owners, Kenneth and Irene Odorizzi.

“This is not just a building that is going to be a museum,” Peerbolte said. “There are three kinds of buckets of funding, if you will.”

The Odorizzis live in Virginia now but are very interested in the project, which they proposed to the museum after learning about the restoration of the Joliet Correctional Center as a tourist and destination site, Peerbolte said.

The museum store would include programs about “the immigrant experience, with an emphasis on Slovenian culture, as well as the overall neighborhood experience in Joliet,” according to a city memo on the project.

Council member Jan Quillman said she was impressed when visiting the interior of the building.

“It’s like they just left it as it was. It’s a time capsule,” Quillman said.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk called it “a great opportunity for the museum” and commended Peerbolte for lining up a funding source.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News