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Woodruff home classic in Greek Revival January 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture.
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The house: The George H. Woodruff home, 207 N. Broadway.

Why it’s important: The Woodruff home stands as one of the older structures in the city of Joliet. It was also the home of noted Joliet historian George H. Woodruff.

Style: The Woodruff home is a classic example of the Greek Revival style. This style is seen in the simple massing with the gable roof with traditional Greek Revival returns at the base of the eaves. It also has a typical Greek Revival door with transom and sidelights.

The history: The Woodruff home is one of the first wave of fine residences built on Broadway. The exact date of construction is unknown, but stylistically and from city directories it appears to have been built between 1850 and 1860.

After Woodruff’s death, George Woodruff and his wife, Emma, lived in the house. By 1918, Kate Avery and Marjorie Woodruff were living in the house. The mid-1950s shows Emma Woodruff residing there with Laura Avery and Benjamin Fowler. By 1960, the home was owned by Fowler, and by the 1970s it was clearly cut into a two-unit building.

Details: The Woodruff home is classic in its design. A simple Greek Revival home with classic details. The eaves on the front have the traditional returns that come in from the bottom of the eaves. These allude to the pediment of a Greek temple without using a full-trim piece. Also of the style is the door. A simple, single-door entry is flanked by side-light windows and topped by a transom. There are stylized columns between the door and the windows, which again allude to the temple form.

The home now has a large enclosed porch. This would have originally been a simply detailed open porch across the front. The gable on the south side also carries the typical Greek Revival returns.

The people: George H. Woodruff was born in Clinton, N.Y., on Aug. 16, 1814. He would remain there and enter Hamilton College in Clinton in 1829. He would graduate four years later. He then moved from Clinton to Pompey Hill, N.Y., and entered the law office of Daniel Gott. He would work in the office for one year until he came West.

In 1835 he took a position as a clerk with Martin Demmond. He would remain with him until the organization of Will County in 1836, when he started in public service. He was elected county recorder in 1836 and 1839. He would serve until 1843, when he entered into the drug, medicine, books and stationery business.

Woodruff will perhaps best remembered as the author of three major historical works. “Fifteen Years Ago: or the Patriotism of Will County” is an admirable work on the history of the Joliet area and its contribution to the American Civil War. The other two works are “Forty Years Ago” and the “1878 History of Will County.”

Among other positions, Woodruff served one term as county judge in 1838, and one term as a member of the board of trustees under the village organization.

Today: The George H. Woodruff home today is a multifamily residence, and has been sided, but much of the original window placement and details remain.

Did you know?: George Woodruff was only 15 years old when he entered Hamilton College, graduating at age 19.

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