The imposing edifice at 214 North Ottawa Street made its original debut in 1925 as the new clubhouse for the Joliet Chamber of Commerce. Designed by the renown Chicago architectural firm of D. H. Burnham and Co., the spacious building reflected a European blend of Spanish and Italian architecture. The J.B. French Company of Chicago, the same company that built Joliet's Union Station, constructed the building.
Originally designed as a social hall for the 1,500 members of the Joliet Chamber of Commerce, the elaborate clubhouse was used throughout the 1920's and 1930's primarily as a place for club members to play cards and billiards, and to socialize while cementing business deals. In 1945, the building continued to build a reputation as the businessman's place to go when it was purchased by the Harwood Post #5 of the American Legion. Taking a slight turn in facility usage, between 1962 and 1969 the building was known as D'Amico's Restaurant, a locally acclaimed nightclub and restaurant facility, featuring big name entertainers such as Louis Armstrong and Phyllis Diller. Well-known Joliet businessman Earl D'Amico orchestrated the construction of a hotel connected to the building on the north side in 1969. He renamed the entire complex at that time, becoming the Sheraton Joliet Motor Inn and the Renaissance Center.
When the Joliet Junior College Foundation purchased the property known as the Renaissance Center in June 1980, they wanted to establish a downtown conference and educational center. College planners agreed that renovation efforts would focus on the historical past of the building as well as provide and promote educational and learning opportunities into the 21st century. The Renaissance Center provides hands-on experience for JJC Culinary Arts and Hotel, Restaurant and Food Service Management students who assist in the operations of the restaurant and banquet facility on a daily basis. The former hotel portion of the building provides office space for several college departments including the Institute of Economic Technology and the Department of Adult and Family Services.
The Renaissance Center Experience
Guests enter the Renaissance Center through the canopied Ottawa Street entrance where they pass the eyes of the guardian lions that provide an aura of grandeur and majesty. The patio/garden area with its 50 foot ceiling and surrounding brick walkway offers guests a sense of Old World elegance unduplicated in the Joliet and outlying Will County area. The magnificent stairway leading up to the Grand Ballroom has been the site of numerous wedding ceremonies and musical performances.
A series of shuttered French doors lead visitors into the Grand Ballroom. The elegance, flexible usage and available technical resources of the Ballroom are unrivaled. The Ballroom can accommodate banquet seating for 500, stand-up reception or theater seating for 500, or training seminars for up to 300 people. The Ballroom is used for banquets, wedding receptions, proms, and large business functions. The Ballroom provides access to the Joliet Area Historical Museum via a rooftop terrace. The open-air terrace is partially covered by a teak canopy providing protection from the elements. This area can be rented by customers who want to wow their guests with the very best of Joliet.
Sparkling chandeliers and etched glass windows continue the Old World elegance of the Renaissance Center in the Dining Room. Antique Will County courthouse doors with etched glass have been hung in brass framework in honor of the history of the Joliet City Center area. The main Dining Room is a primary location for student-sponsored activities including daily lunches and the FRIDAY NIGHT OUT Dinner Series. The Dining Room has a seating capacity of 77 people.
More Elegant Rooms For Every Occasion
Directly adjoining the Dining Room is the Napoleon Room, which may be used as an extended dining area. This versatile conference room can accommodate banquet or classroom seating for 50 and stand-up reception or theater seating for 100.
The Amerifed Room located off the north side of the patio/garden area was described in 1925 by a Joliet Herald News writer as a "marvel of beauty and comfort." The room features a marble-edged fireplace on one wall providing a perfect photo opportunity location. An inlaid red oak dance floor allows the room to be utilized for social functions as well as business and educational meetings. The Amerifed Room can accommodate banquet or classroom seating for 100, theater seating for 200 or standup reception for 350. The conference room can be subdivided into two smaller rooms if necessary.
The Amoco Room, located off the main lobby, can accommodate smaller groups of up to 28 for private dining or meetings. Set in theater style, the room can hold 59 people for training or instructional purposes.