The Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery is located on the first floor of the historic Norton Building, a massive limestone structure built by Lockport business mogul Hiram Norton around 1850. Strategically placed at the edge of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, the large, arched portals - now windows in the west galleries overlooking the canal and a recreation trail - were originally used as access points for storing, processing, and packaging barrels of grain.
The building - originally constructed to house grain, a supply store, and a dormitory for canal crews - continued functioning as a grain-processing facility until the 1950s, when it was sold to a steel fabricator.
In 1989 the structure was acquired by Norton Building and Company, Inc., who contracted with archaeologists to excavate the premises before beginning restoration of the building. Excavation uncovered the hydraulic turbines used as a power source during the building's heyday. The company has since developed the Norton Building as a multi-use facility with residential lofts, offices, commercial space, and the Illinois State Museum's Lockport Facility.
The Gallery's adaptive reuse of the Norton Building showcases Illinois art in a striking setting while maintaining a sensitive link to the structure's history. High ceilings and hardwood floors grace the three galleries and provide a comfortable setting for a broad variety of art work.