Storm damages historic Lockport building
BY TONY GRAF Sun-Times Media July 3, 2012 11:20PM
Dan Reposh (left), with Homer Tree Care, and Jeff Loeschen (right), director of park services for the Lockport Township Park District, look at fallen trees along the Norton Building Tuesday, July 3, 2012, in Lockport. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 5, 2012 6:36AM
There was a time when barges pulled by mules docked at the historic Norton Building along the Illinois & Michigan Canal in downtown Lockport.
But four objects that “docked” there during Friday night’s storm apparently arrived by “sail” — although not via the waterway — and on Tuesday they still were there drawing attention.
Four large trees, uprooted by the storm’s high winds, came to rest against the Norton Building, damaging doors and a balcony to a private residence at the building.
Officials from the Lockport Township Park District and a tree service were at the site Tuesday morning surveying the damage.
The building, constructed in 1850, once was a warehouse and now houses the Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery. It once had a supply store and a dormitory for canal crews and continued functioning as a grain-processing facility until the 1950s, when it was sold to a steel fabricator, according to the gallery’s website.
The trees on Tuesday were pressing against the west side of the building, museum curator Jennifer Jaskowiak said.
The National Weather Service in Romeoville reported that winds in Lockport reached 85 mph Friday night, and Homer Tree Care said that was what uprooted the trees. The canopies of the eastern cottonwoods, full of leaves at this time of year, might have acted as sails in the high winds, according to Homer Tree Care. Large sections of turf also came up with the roots.
The trees, on the east bank of the I&M Canal, fell eastward toward the building, which is just south of Ninth Street, and they were hanging over what now is the I&M Canal Trail.
The Norton Building once was a warehouse for grain, with its windows along the edge of the canal.
“The canal was wide enough and deep enough to where the water would have come right up to the building,” Jaskowiak said. “The large windows were the doors where they would load through from the warehouse to the barges.”
Those large windows are exactly where the trees fell Friday night, docked just where the barges used to dock.