On a cold March afternoon, I braved the weather conditions to discover what the "big deal" was at the end of Main Street called Peoria Riverfront Park. As I briskly walked along this historic main street, I could see in the distance a beautiful brick building, and I wondered to myself, "What is it; what is its purpose?"
As I came closer to the structure, I realized that it, too, had something to do with the Riverfront Park. Then I noticed the engraved title, "The Gateway Building".
It's an impressive structure with its peaked roof lines and its graceful archways. The red brick of its construction makes it look even more massive than it actually is. It certainly is a lovely entrance to this beautifully revised riverfront!
Fondest memory: This Gateway Building is used for both business and social functions, and it anchors the area known as the Riverfront Park.
There are meeting rooms plus a grand ballroom that overlooks the Illinois River.
Once I passed through the Gateway's courtyard to the plaza beyond, I saw commemorative bricks that serve as a permanent "memorial" for all the people of Peoria, and they serve as an enticing "welcome" to all the visitors to Peoria as well.
When Allan and I drove to our hotel in Peoria, I saw a most fascinating building, which I pointed out. It has a huge sign atop that indicates that it is the Commerce Bank, but I wanted to know more; I knew it had a history to discover.
The Peoria Life Insurance Company finished Peoria's tallest building in 1920 (tallest building then) For years, it was known as the Alliance Life Building, and it contained numerous professional offices.
In the 1930s, Walgreen's Drug Store opened its first drug store in the Peoria area with a lunch counter and a pharmacy on the ground floor of the building.
Then, after being located in several different places in Peoria, First National Bank bought the structure in the late 1940s. They did extensive renovation to the structure before moving in.
Commerce Bank purchased the building in the 1990s.
Fondest memory: The Commerce Bank Building is 17 stories high as it soars up at the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets. Its lovely facade gleams white in the noontime sun and creates a focal point within the area. Even though it is among some pretty impressive newer buildings, it holds its own. I, personally, found it to be the most elegant of the commercial buildings that I saw in Peoria!
Please click this panoramic photo!
At 504 Fulton Street in Peoria, I discovered a lovely catholic church called Sacred Heart Catholic Church. I investigated and found its history, which I found interesting.
When the diocese of Peoria was created about 1875, Peoria had three Catholic churches. The main or mother church was St. Mary's and two off-springs were St. Joseph and St. Patrick. When the first Bishop, John Spalding, arrived, more churches were constructed. The first new parish established by Bishop Spalding was, you guessed it, Sacred Heart in 1878. It was built to serve the German speaking immigrants.
The parish was assigned to the Capuchin Fathers. The first Sacred Heart Church was constructed in the middle of the first block of South Madison Street on the upper side of the street. It was a frame church with beautiful stained glass from Chicago and wall frescos by a local artist. In 1895 this building was MOVED a half block to the corner of Fulton and S. Madison. The congregation grew and...
Fondest memory: and in 1906, the present landmark STONE church building was dedicated at the same location at the corner of Fulton and South Madison. It's a simple but beautiful church, and its location is also quite desirable.
As I've already mentioned in a couple of pages about Peoria I spent some very formative years here going to college, meeting my wife, having my first full time job after college and buying my first home.
When I was recently down in Peoria I stayed at the hotel right across the street from the old Madison Theatre where I took my future wife on our first date.
The Theatre quit functioning as a movie theatre many years ago, but the building still remain intact.
Fondest memory: I met my future wife on her first day at college. I was a year ahead of her in school so I was already worldly in only the ways a 19 year old can be.
Anyway after I met Sue on her first day at a party we talked and I got her phone number in the dorm (this was way way way before cell phones). A few days later I screwed up the courage to call her and ask her out for a date.
We were picked up by a cab at the campus of Bradley University by her dorm and rode the 2 miles to downtown Peoria. After the show, Billy Jack, we again took a cab with the same female cab driver back to campus.
The rest is they say HISTORY!!
My home nine months of the year between 1997 and 2001! A great mid-sized university, Bradley was very much the focus of Peoria--literally, due to its position on the highest hill in town, and economically, because the university, besides Caterpillar company's headquarters, provide much of the town's income. Bradley is a mid-sized university that always does well in the national rankings. Plus, the Bradley Braves basketball team is extremely popular in town, and usually they do very well in their conference.
Fondest memory: Having started my career in physical therapy here at Bradley University, I have so many fond memories of teachers, classes, crazy schedules, friends, and late night pizza orders... :)
Leonardo's Pizza has the best pizza in town! Great deep dish and thin crust, and they're not sparing on the toppings or the cheese. To get to Leonardo's take 150 going West, and it's on your left. Can't miss it... there's a big, yellow sign with a picture of Leonardo DaVinci on it :-) On Friday and Saturdays, they have music.
Fondest memory: Sitting in Leonardo's with my family, eating pizza, and listening to Applegate.
Favorite thing: Dubbed 'The World's Most Beautiful Drive,' Grandview Drive in Peoria looks over the Illinois River. I think the nickname is a bit of an exaggeration, but it's not bad. :)
Wildlife Prairie Park was my favorite place to visit in the Peoria area.
Fondest memory: At the Wildlife Priarie Park we were there as they were feeding the wolves and enjoyed watching them.