I started a new segment here on MBIP the other week called, “Can I Eat My Lunch In Here,” and it was a lot of fun and I’m planning on doing another episode of this after the new year so stay tuned for that. If you missed it, I got lunch from B Easy and then stopped at a building I’ve always wanted to go into, Converse Marketing at the top of the Main Street hill. You never know how these things are going to go, but it went fabulous and was a lot of fun. They were great sports, let me eat in their kitchen and offered to give me a tour of the building. And I took them up on it and today is the day of the tour and you can come along too! So let’s get over there and let the tour begin!
Here we are at Converse Manor. I think this is one of the coolest looking buildings in Peoria and have driven by it hundreds of times on my way to work. So many times I'd look at the building and tell myself I need to find a way to get inside and take a look around. And a couple of weeks ago I did just that. And today we get a full-blown tour of the building. See what happens if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other in a forward direction that leads your imagination to become a reality? So there!
Here's another angle of Converse Manor. The building looks like an English castle to me. I can just picture Ringo up there in the top turret eating a medium-sized bowl of Cheerios and watching a shiny object twirling on a table. He's easily amused that way I've heard.
This is the side of the building. It's freezing out here, so let's get inside before my camera turns into a grape Popsicle.
Deja view, this is just how the last episode started out here, but I don't think those wreaths were on the door. Let's make tracks and get inside where hopefully they've paid their heating bill and we can warm up.
Once inside we're greeted by a familiar pretty face, Amy, the receptionist in here. Great to see her again!
This is Josh, who's going to be our tour guide for the day. Josh has worked here for three years and is an Account Executive which means he's a liaison between the company and the clients. And of course, today he's the official tour guide, so let's begin the official tour of Converse Manor!
Most tours begin by walking down a front hallway and this one is no exception. It's quite the impressive front hallway too with a wooden breakfront, paintings, a carpet runner and a lone chandelier lighting the way towards our next stop...
The dining room. Josh gave me some history of the building in here. The building was built in 1881 by Edward S. Easton and his wife Sarah. In 1901 after Easton died, Col. John Comstock and his family purchased the house and lived here for 19 years. After that it was a funeral home and then it was an abandoned building and nearly was demolished three times. You can read more about the history of the building here, but ultimately, Jane Converse saved this building by purchasing it and turning it into the office building for her business, Converse Marketing. I think the city should be be grateful to Jane Converse and her family that is running the business now for preserving this building. Without them, we may have a Starbucks sitting here, so I for one will always be grateful to them for keeping this historic building alive and well at the top of the hill here on Main Street. Cheers to the Converse family!
Here's a painting of Teddy Roosevelt who stayed here at one point in history. Every picture I've ever seen of Teddy looks like he's having gas pains. The poor fellow!
This is the music room complete with...
A vintage piano and two unlit candelabras on top. I was expecting Liberace to march into the room any minute and start playing a three-part concerto and then I remembered he's been dead for quite awhile so that wasn't going to happen. It was at this moment that Josh and I realized we must keep moving on.
In a Jeffersons-like manner, we are movin' on up to the second floor.
While there's no deluxe apartment in the sky up here, there is Josh's work station and here is in action clutching a wireless mouse.
The desk next to Josh at the front of the room belongs to the President of Converse Marketing, Amy who runs the show here. I had a nice conversation with Amy and it turns out we have lots of Peoria people in common including her husband who's part of the Schlicksup family and I know some of them including Hal, his wife Sharon (I used to steal Sharon's shoes in grade school) and John Schlicksup who was a good friend of my brother Jim's and is known for his infamous Carbondale Cookie Monster outfit among other adventures and stories. It was nice chatting with Amy and I appreciate her taking time out of her busy day to let my motormouth run in her office! Okay, on with the tour!
Hey, check this out! Very nice!
This room was originally Edward Easton's bedroom. Josh is pointing out the windows in a nook over here that Easton reportedly used to stand and gaze out to...
This view, which back in the day before the buildings were blocking it, he could watch boats carrying his grains and whiskey along the Illinois River. There wasn't YouTube back then, so you had to amuse yourself any old way you could!
Next stop is the writer's room and inside of it we found...
Eric, who's a writer so it makes perfect sense that he's seated in here. I love it when things work out like this. It makes me feel like the universe has a reason for existing and that Jupiter has aligned with Mars and this is indeed the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
Here's another window-lined nook with a view overlooking Main Street.
We're heading up to the third floor and the MBIP camera has fuzzed out on me. I hate it when this happens, but what are you going to do?
Wow, this room is especially impressive! I love the lighting and the wooden floors in here.
This is the designer's area so it makes perfect sense that there's two designer's housed here in this room. We met Ted on our last visit and that's Lindsey over there to the left. We had a nice chat and then it was back to the tour.
Josh told me this is the Billiards Room...
But there's not a Billiards Table in here, just these chairs...
And a round table, so at first I felt like it was a bit of a gyp, until...
Josh showed me this Foosball Table over here in the corner. And we all know that a Foosball Table makes up for a missing Billiards Table every day of the week, so all is even Steven and we can now carry on. Or something like that.
The last stop of the tour is the basement of the building. Could someone please cue up The Ramones?
I have to admit being a little creeped out down here. Josh told me that a group of ghost hunters verified that it was indeed haunted down here. But, as Josh pointed out, if they didn't find any ghosts or haunted places, ghost hunters would have no jobs, so take it for what it's worth!
A Debbie Harry poster on the wall! Hey Blondie!
This is what used to be the "casket ramp" back when it was a funeral parlor. Trucks would back up and the caskets would get slid right down this ramp. What's weird here is all the little circles that showed up on this photo for no reason. Spook-O-Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong!
Speaking of spooky, the last stop on the tour was these underground tunnels that led from the manor to the servants quarters across the street.
As someone with acute claustrophobia and an ongoing fear of being buried alive, it was decided that the tour would abruptly end here as I quickly ran to the door for the safety of the great outdoors! Thanks to Josh for a great tour and to everyone at Converse Marketing for another fun day at the top of the hill on Main Street. They are definitely one of the coolest companies in town and we should all thank them for keeping this historic building alive and well! We'll see you all tomorrow!
We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliate,
God save tudor houses, antique tables and billiards.
Preserving the old ways from being abused,
Protecting the new ways for me and for you,
What more can we do?
Bonus Photoshoppery From Jaws the Cabbie!
Jaws the Cabbie sent in this spooky, Photoshopped picture of Converse Marketing! Great work, Jaws, thanks!