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Morris Downtown Development Partnership introduces historic building plaque program

Julie Applegate
Julie Applegate

With its beautiful historic buildings, great shopping, fun events and inviting streetscape, downtown Morris is the envy of other communities!

Although we admire, shop and dine in our historic downtown buildings, how many of us actually know much of their history?

With this in mind, the Morris Downtown Development Partnership (MDDP) is initiating a Historic Building Plaque Program.

Several years we purchased a plaque for the Baum Building at 105 E. Main Street, and in late 2017 several additional bronze plaques were purchased for other buildings in our Commercial Historic District.

Just north of Main Street at 314-318 Liberty you will find a new plaque on the Gebhard Building, briefly explaining its history and displaying the year the building was built.

This building was built in 1885 by Louis Gebhard, founder of the Gebhard Brewery.

The ground floor originally housed Peterson’s Grocery, Cronin Hardware and Sachse Saloon. Apartments were on the second floor, and the Masonic Lodge was on the third.

This building has also housed Grenell’s auto sales and the Times Theater.

Additional plaques have been purchased for the Grundy County National Bank building, the Frank Bros. Clothing Store building where the Grundy Economic Development Council has their offices at 112 E. Washington, and the Collins Building at 420-424 Liberty.

Some may have recently visited the Collins Building as one of its beautiful apartments was featured on the 2017 Home For The Holidays House Walk. In the near future, you will be able to walk by these building and learn a little more about their history.

The Morris Downtown Development Partnership is planning for several additional plaques in 2018. The Building Plaque Program compliments our Self-Guided Walking Tour brochure and audio tour.

The brochure provides a brief history of Morris, highlights the history of twenty of downtown Morris’ historic buildings, and includes a map of their locations.

Recently updated brochures can be found at the MDDP office, Grundy County Chamber of Commerce, the Grundy County Historical Society Museum and several downtown businesses.

The brochures and the audio tour may also be downloaded from our website,

As the history of Morris is based on the development of transportation – from the stagecoach to canal boats, railroads and trucking, it’s buildings stand as an architectural record of its growth from the past.

I hope that while you are enjoying all the downtown Morris has to offer, you will take a moment a learn a little about our city’s history.

If you have any questions about the Historic Buildings Plaque Program, or might be interested in participating, please contact me at (815) 941-0245 or

• Julie Applegate is the executive director of Morris Downtown Development Partnership. Community Pulse is a weekly column that provides a dedicated space for Grundy County-area nonprofits, schools, organizations and sometimes Morris Herald-News staff to share news and information about their organization.

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