Gaylord Building History
Construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal
began on the 4th of July, 1836. Little
headway was made during the first two years, however. The major
problem was a lack of supplies and manpower, most of which had to be
brought from the East Coast. Lockport had no building large enough
to accommodate the steady stream of materials coming into Lockport
so they decided to erect a stone warehouse. Some people were upset
over the use of state funds to build the warehouse, but the building
has certainly withstood the test of time.
The foundation for the building was dug in May 1838, under the
supervision of two brothers, Erastus and William Newton, contractors
on the I&M Canal. By September of that year the building had been
painted and was ready for use. Total costs for the building came to
Items stored in the warehouse included provisions, shovels, picks,
wheelbarrows, lumber, ropes, iron and steel for making tools and
machinery, chains, cordage, cranes, black powder and staple
provisions for winter sustenance of the workmen.
the canal was finally completed in 1848 the Canal Board of Trustees
had no need for the building. After briefly renting it to the firm
of Norton and Blackstone, which made thorough repairs on the
building, it was sold in September 1848 for $4,000. Shortly
afterwards the firm of Martin and Townsend rented out the space for
grain storage, and by 1850 they were doing a booming business.
George B. Martin purchased the building in November 1853.
Shortly after Gaylord’s death Norton & Company bought the building
for $7,500. The 1859 addition was used to store barbed wire in the
1880s. During the Barrows Lock Company era the building housed
machine shops, a brass foundry, a carpentry shop, and storerooms. In
1945 the Will County printing Company had a specialty print shop
here. From 1948 until the early 1980s the building was occupied by
the Hyland Plumbing Supply Building.
In 1983 George’s Gaylord’s grandson, Gaylord Donnelley, retired
chairman of Chicago’s R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co., formed a private
development company to rehabilitate the structure. The Gaylord
Lockport Company, named for Donnelley’s grandfather, spent four
years and $2.8 million returning the derelict building to its former
beauty and adapting it to modern-day use.