Willis Department Store Building

The Willis Department Store was constructed in 1883 at 15 East Main Street.

Godfrey Willis immigrated from England in 1872 by way of Philadelphia, and together with Harry Scott opened G.C. Willis Department Store seen here on the right. Lasting over 84 years the building would eventually lose its historic appearance and become J.C. Penney Department Store. Willis and Company was notable for its S&H Green Stamp store. This program allowed buyers of goods to collect stamps for every dollar spent and redeemed for merchandise at select stores.

In the 1980’s the News-Gazette under owner and publisher Marajen Stevick-Chinigo contracted with Gerhard Rettberg Associates to renovate the building to it’s current appearance. The facade and cornice were removed and the building stripped to it’s original steel structure. The current cladding is Italian red granite and the interior was designed by Mrs. Stevick-Chinigo.

Images

Willis Department Store, 15 Main Street

Willis Department Store, 15 Main Street

Source: Sholem Family View File Details Page

G. C. Willis Letterhead

G. C. Willis Letterhead

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

JC Penny Downtown Concept Drawing

JC Penny Downtown Concept Drawing

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Willis Department Store on Main Street

Willis Department Store on Main Street

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Willis Department Store's final day sale, December 1967

Willis Department Store's final day sale, December 1967

Source: Sholem Family View File Details Page

Willis Department Store's final day sale, July 1959

Willis Department Store's final day sale, July 1959

Source: Sholem Family View File Details Page

Willis Department Store Rendering

Willis Department Store Rendering

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Street Address:

15 East Main Street [map]

Cite this Page:

T.J. Blakeman, “Willis Department Store Building,” ExploreCU, accessed June 27, 2017, http://explorecu.org/items/show/358.

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