by Brandon LaChance
Since its creation in 1891, the building known as the Country Mansion at 101 W. South St. in Dwight has been changed, morphed, adapted into many names, businesses, and uses. Now, it’s going to see another renovation as Carson Woods, who grew up on a farm four miles outside of Dwight and graduated from
Dwight Township High School in 1988, has bought the property with the plans of not only getting it up and running, but bringing it to its full potential. “I’m a go-getter and I like building and creating. Dwight has a special place in my heart, and I feel as though there is a great opportunity to restore the mansion to its grandeur and make it a community asset to help bring people to Dwight,” said Woods. “The mansion wouldn’t only prosper itself, but it would help all of the businesses in Dwight. “Right now, I’m in the discovery phase. It’s an asset that hasn’t been operated in over four years. What it once was won’t necessarily be what it will be in the future. We’re going through the process to see how best to repurpose and utilize the property.”
Since graduating from DTHS, Woods has focused on marketing and finance after strengthening his skills with an education from Purdue University. Woods moved to Chicago and worked with Andersen Consulting, now Accenture, for three years. He then headed east to New York City where he became a part of Strategic Merchandising Associates where he helped launch the first ever Heisman Trophy licensing program and consulted with tennis’ U.S. Open, the New York Yankees, and the Amateur Trap Shooting Association. Moving to Columbus, Ohio gave Woods the opportunity to help launch the NHL franchise, the Columbus Blue Jackets. In 2017, he moved to Los Angeles and began working at Sofi Stadium for the NFL team, the Los Angeles Chargers. For the last two years, he has been the Senior Director of Premium Sales, responsible for selling luxury suites at the Chargers’ stadium. Although he has been around the country and involved in many projects, an endeavor at home, Dwight, is just as exciting as he has family in Odell and was intrigued when hearing the Country Mansion was available for purchase. “You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s getting in there and seeing what needs to be done,” Woods said. “The property needs a significant amount of work.
There isn’t a timetable because there is a certain, distinct process. I think my message to the community is, I’m going to restore the property to its grandeur. It’s going to take significant time, so I don’t have a specific timetable until I get all of the facts. “It’s a chance to give back to the community. It has been inoperable for four years, so the opportunity to bring the Country Mansion back to life is not only something I’m excited about, but it’s a privilege and an honor to be able to restore something that is near and dear to a lot of people in central Illinois.”
Woods is appreciative and gave thanks to those who have helped him in the purchasing and early stages of restoring the property, including Bob Ohlendorf (the mansion’s former owner), Dwight Mayor Paul Johnson, Dwight Administrator Kevin McNamara, and Kim Drechsel of the Dwight Historical Society. Brandon LaChance can be reached at 815-876-7941, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @LaChanceWriter.