USF receives donation of downtown Joliet building from BMO Harris Bank

Mode Building Dedication

BMO Harris Bank has donated the former Mode Theatre building to the University of St. Francis (USF), which will expand its downtown operations. Pictured at the Sept. 7 commemoration ceremony are (left to right) City of Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante; Chris McComish, executive vice president, Retail Banking, BMO Harris Bank; USF President Michael J. Vinciguerra; and Bob Johnson, president, BMO Harris Bank Joliet Market.

Representatives from BMO Harris Bank, Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante, and members of the University of St. Francis community joined local officials Sept. 7 for a ceremony commemorating the donation of the Mode Theatre building to the university for expansion of its educational programs.

“By collaborating with the City of Joliet and the University of St. Francis, we will be able to jumpstart an important economic development project to help spur growth in downtown Joliet,” said Chris McComish, executive vice president, Retail Banking, BMO Harris Bank. “With our donation we hope future students will have greater opportunities to enrich their lives in an economically thriving community.”

USF President Michael J. Vinciguerra said the building donation enhances the university’s downtown presence.

“We appreciate that both the City of Joliet and BMO Harris Bank recognize the importance of having Joliet’s university grow its downtown activities,” he said. “BMO Harris Bank has shown particular acumen in pursuing this collaboration, which contributes to the downtown revitalization as well as to higher education programming.”

City of Joliet officials worked closely with the bank and university to ensure use of the Mode building will be synergistic with plans for the downtown, said Vinciguerra. These plans include a $55 million transportation center to be achieved by federal, state and city investment; a $1 million downtown plaza on which the Mode will sit; and the Joliet Junior College building construction to house its culinary arts program.

Plans for the Mode will maximize collaborative opportunities and enhance the university’s other investments in downtown, providing access to new student populations, said Vinciguerra. USF located its Art & Design Department in renovated Rialto Square Theatre space in 2009 and will soon open an art gallery in the building. The city helped finance Rialto renovations that included the Art & Design educational space. The galley renovation is funded in part by a $50,000 grant from the Will County Board.
The university also uses Silver Cross Field as its home field for the Fighting Saints baseball team.

The Mode building is a former 18,000-square-foot movie theater, built in 1908. It housed a 750-seat movie theater that operated until the mid-1980s when it was converted into multi-tenant office space. The BMO Harris Bank obtained title to the building in 2009. The university plans to renovate the building in phases to potentially house such university programs as transportation and logistics, entrepreneurship, hospitality management, criminal and social justice. Plans for use, however, are not finalized, Vinciguerra said.

“Natural synergies exist for many of our programs to be located in the downtown,” he said. “We will closely study how to best tie our programming to the needs and opportunities of the community. Locating additional programming in downtown Joliet further manifests USF’s identity as a Catholic, Franciscan university in an urban setting.”

The University of St. Francis in Joliet serves 3,400 students nationwide, offering 44 undergraduate programs, four degree-completion programs and 15 graduate programs, including two doctoral programs. Programs are offered in arts and science, business, education, nursing and health care and social work. For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit

About BMO Harris Bank
Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 650 branches and approximately 1,350 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank’s commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris BankSM is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.