Old Places, New Spaces | Under Rocks Podcast

Jan 15, 2021

Another year, another dozen opportunities to explore what’s cool, what’s interesting, what’s weird in your own backyard. It’s Under Rocks, where you help us send our adventurous correspondents out to discover those hidden gems in northern Illinois. This time, Jason Cregier and Dan Libman, with a big assist from tech giant Spencer Tritt, visit with some of the people who transform Old Places into New Spaces.

Rehabbing an old building can be an expensive, overwhelming commitment. Imagine taking on a whole downtown square! That's what's happening in Mt. Morris. Dan Libman meets up with Ashley Sarver in the Ogle County town. She's the Senior Urban Planner at Studio GWA, based in Rockford. 

One of Studio GWA's projects was to transform an old theater in Rochelle into a home for the Kennay family's business: a distillery with a welcoming public space. Dan gets the story of the restoration from Doris Kennay, owner and operator of Kennay Farms Distilling.

Look around you. These types of rehabs, repurposes, and restorations are everywhere, maybe even your own neighborhood. That's what Jason Cregier did, and found Old School Pizza in Malta. And it's exactly as advertised. An old school. With pizza. And more.

Old School Pizza, Malta
Credit Jason Cregier / WNIJ

Got a favorite repurposed building? Let us know at rocks@niu.edu. And if you have an idea for a future episode of Under Rocks, drop us a couple of lines! We want to share our region's hidden gems with our listeners.