In early 2015, Phil Gioja worked with the Iroquois County Historical Society to create a documentary on the Old Courthouse Museum, located in Watseka IL in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the building.



In the course of making and distributing the film, the Illinois State Historical Society was given a copy, and Phil was urged to submit the film for the annual Illinois State Historical Society awards. Phil was given a Superior Achievement award for his work on the project.

“This DVD shows how the Iroquois County Historical Society transformed a deteriorated, former courthouse of 47 rooms into a museum reflecting the past 150 years. Included are artifacts, period music, many photographs, and 20 interviews as well as a walking tour with interpretations by docents and voice-overs. The result is a 45-minute historical artwork that could serve as a model for others. Especially notable is the high quality of the video work. A loving tribute to the people of the county who created, preserved, and now share that history.”

I enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in the Illinois Historical Society Awards ceremony partly because it reminded me that we’re all a part of a much larger community. Sometimes it can feel like things that happen in Watseka are only valued locally, if at all. It was rewarding to discover that the story of something special which happened here in Watseka years ago is meaningful to many people across the state who are doing their best to preserve their own local histories as well.
— Phil Gioja