Thursday of last week (is that all? It seems longer!), we were going stir crazy from being stuck at home, and decided to take a ride into the countryside. No harm if there’s no one around, right?
We were also looking for hand sanitizer and after going into three stores, we went to Walgreens. They are keeping hand sanitizer under the counter at the check-out, and rationing it so everyone has a chance to get some. They were just two small bottles, but I think they’ll be enough for now! And they have aloe!
In our quest for hand sanitizer, we ended up going straight up Hwy 14 (Northwest Hwy) and passed through a lot of little towns.
So we ended up, not in the country, but in Woodstock, Illinois! Woodstock is a historic town and was the site for filming of the movie Groundhog Day. As we walked the streets of downtown Woodstock, we did see a few references to this claim to fame.
Almost all the stores were closed, of course, and we only saw a few other people pass by. One had a dog on a long leash and Dale stopped to pet it. But what I was really interested in was the Woodstock Opera House! An opera house is probably the last thing I would expect to see in Woodstock, so I was eager to have a look.
The opera house is the largest building in Woodstock. Of course, I had to get a few close-ups of its doors!
Side view of the building:
In Groundhog Day, the building was featured as the Pennsylvanian Hotel. It was built in 1889, designed to be a multi-purpose facility and also housed some city administrative offices, police and fire departments. It became McHenry County’s center for entertainment by traveling vaudeville, minstrel and drama companies.
There have been several renovations to the building. The interior has been fully modernized, including the technology used in modern entertainment shows, yet it retains its historic character.
The City of Woodstock owns the building but it is now used solely as a performance venue and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Perpendicular to the opera house on the historic square in downtown Woodstock is the old County Courthouse and Jail.
The old courthouse was built in 1857, to closely resemble the Cook Co. Courthouse, built four years earlier, but the Cook Co. Courthouse was eventually destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This building is also on the National Register of Historic Places and now houses various private businesses as well as a restaurant and art gallery.
Next to the old courthouse is the old county jail, famous for holding labor leader Eugene Debs, who organized the Pullman strike, which was ruled illegal. He spent six months in the jail and he became good friends with the warden and his family. The old courthouse functioned as a courthouse until 1973.
This structure was built in 1887 as the Sheriff’s House and Jail.
We walked around the mostly deserted historic square, where I took these photos of doors and other sights.
A lot of doorways had signs on them saying the business was closed for quarantine.
Even the little library (left) had a sign that it was closed due to the quarantine!