Joliet Area Historical Museum, Renaissance Center, Public Library and Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus

5/22/13 Wednesday at Elwood, IL (Cathy and Win’s Farm)

By not shopping today, we managed to get in some great explorations.

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Joliet (JOH lee et) is a fairly large city, yet we were still impressed with their museum. They are on Route 66, which goes from Chicago to Los Angeles, so we have images explaining that just outside the museum.

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Since they are on the Des Plaines River and fairly close to Chicago, the most significant thing they did early on was to build a canal that connected Lake Michigan (against which sits Chicago) to the Des Plaines River, which flows into the Mississippi River, which flows on to New Orleans. This created a path for commerce from the North to the South. It also made sense because they quarried limestone here, so they could use that for the canal. As fate would have it, the railroads arrived just a few years after they finished the canal, creating competition for that commerce. Still, Joliet was a hub of transportation.

These mannikins in the museum are remarkable and perched on the 2nd floor yet visible from both floors.

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In the 1880’s production of steel products like steel rails, nails, barbed wire and horseshoes grew. Phoenix Horseshoe grew into the 1920’s, but by 1929 they needed to diversify to survive, finally having to close it’s doors in 1966. During its heyday, it was the world’s largest producer of horse and mule shoes. By 1936 Joliet had 6 wallpaper producing mills, making about 1/3 of the nation’s wallpaper.

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Parlor Organ

Adding Machine

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?  Mystery machine, but just fascinating.  Let me know if you know what it is

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Addressograph (made address labels as seen on the right)

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Originally the city’s museum was tucked into a very small space, but when the Methodist’s gave them their church building, they filled it with an amazing story of Joliet. In gratitude, they kept the original 112 year old church, with it’s beautiful stained glass windows, in good condition.

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Their high school band won the National Championship 3 years in a row, so JTSB was awarded permanent possession of the National Championship trophy. They were so good, others didn’t want to have to compete against them. They also had an American Legion Band that, conceived of in WWII, won the 1st of 9 consecutive National Championships in 1946.

By now, we are famished. Luckily the Renaissance Center, where the Joliet Junior College culinary students prepare and serve the meals, is open to the public on Wednesdays. What fabulous food, every bit. We even got a recipe for the Nopales (prickly pear) in Chipotle Sauce. They are really good for blood pressure and cholesterol and John said he’d eat this. $10.75 per person and incredibly worth it.

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After the Museum we visited their Public Library, built of limestone, of course. You can see Louis Joliet in front, then I’ve zoomed into his face. Cathy insisted that we see their fireplace. Pretty special for a library.

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Next we saw the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus, with a lovely statue of Mother Theresa, in a sort of courtyard area, with blocks engraved with some of her famous quotes.

Now the weary travelers arrive home, separate for “me time”, then enjoy supper, visiting until bedtime.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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