The Historic Willys Overland Building is located at 151-157 Chestnut Street and was built in 1916 for the Willys-Overland Motor Company. It has been on theNational Register of Historic Places since 1983 for its connection to Springfield’s early automotive history. It is an important part of a collection of significant historic buildings near Apremont Triangle that includes the old YMCA building, the Hotel Kimball, the Tarbell-Watters Building, and the McIntosh Building (which won an award for its restoration after damage from a gas explosion).
The Willys Overland Building has been neglected for many years and then was damaged by the November 2012 Gas Explosion. The owner applied for a demolition permit in January of 2015, and the nine month demolition delay law was implemented giving the Springfield Historical Commission a chance to create a local historic district. The building continues to be vacant and deteriorated.
A planning study was done in the area after the gas blast and identified the Willys Overland building as having potential for residential conversion and that the existing column grid and building depths work well for residential conversion. There is a twin building in Detroit which has been turned into residential units.
The Springfield Historical Commission moved forward with the process to create a Local Historic District (LHD) for the building. The Willys-Overland Local Historic District was created by a 12-1 vote of the City Council on July 20, 2015. The exterior of the 4-story industrial building at 151-155 Chestnut Street now cannot be altered without approval of the Springfield Historical Commission. A developer has purchased the building and has plans to renovate it into a mixed use building with commercial space and parking on the ground floor and apartments on the upper three stories.