Wilson/Cooley House

2626 Vermont Street

Built in 1838

Photographs by BIHS Executive Director Kevin Brown


This is the oldest house in Blue Island, having survived three moves and several remodelings.  Zachary Wilson came to Blue Island in 1838 and started to build this home but did not live to complete it.


The home was purchased by Germanicus Cooley, who arrived in 1839. Cooley finished the house, which was then located on the east side of Western Avenue, a short distance down the ridge from Norman Rexford’s Blue Island House. Cooley operated a scow on the Little Calumet River and the early Calumet feeder canal, bringing produce to the communities that lined its shores.


When the Rock Island Railroad began buying property in Blue Island in 1851, Cooley moved his house to the southwest corner of Western and Vermont Street. Cooley continued to live in the home until 1855. Heinrich Boese next operated a private school from the home before it was purchased in 1857 by Charles Eidam, who opened a shoe shop at this location. The home was moved to its present site in 1892.


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