Gillette Memorial Arch

County Road 10, Elkhart

The Gillett Memorial Arch, will remain in place despite the county’s attempts to have it demolished to accommodate a road widening project. The scenic bridge was included in the 2005 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list. Commissioned by former Illinois First Lady Emma Gillett Oglesby in 1915 as a memorial to her brother, this cast concrete bridge serves as a link between the family cemetery
and the grounds of the historic estate. Located 20 miles north of Springfield, the single-arch bridge is a unique visual feature along a scenic stretch of roadway. Over the years, family members and local residents have made efforts to maintain the bridge, which shows only minimal signs of wear. The 90-year-old bridge is not protected by local landmark designation.

After its inclusion in Landmarks Illinois’ Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list, the bridge and the adjacent cemetery and chapel were determined eligible by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Meetings between IHPA, the county roads division, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Representative Rich Brauer (R-100) resulted in an understanding that the county cannot demolish the bridge without permission from IDOT or IHPA, and both agencies are committed to its preservation. IDOT agreed to seek a variance relative to current codes on road width. IHPA will continue to work with locals toward finalizing National Register listing for the bridge, which will make it eligible in the future for federal preservation funds.

(credit: Landmarks Illinois)

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