Yesterday when my GPS guided me to Nick’s Deli, it started off by telling me to drive to Spalding Avenue. I had never heard of Spalding Avenue, but when I got there, I realized it was named that because it’s the Avenue that used to be home to Peoria Spalding Institute, a high school that was built in 1899 and closed it’s doors in 1989 after merging with Bergan High School to form Peoria Notre Dame High School in that same year. As I drove by the building, I realized it’s a place I’ve never been in. I wondered what, if anything, it was being used for these days and today we’re going to find out. Yes, it’s field trip day here at MBIP, I hope you’ve all got your letter of consent signed by your parents! Let’s make like Graham Parker and go back to school days!
Deja view, we're right back where we started yesterday, on Adams Street headed for Spalding Avenue.
And there's today's destination, straight ahead. Let's park and start today's adventure!
Here we are at the corner of Spalding and Madison...
The corner where this building that used to be Peoria Spalding Institute sits.
According to this sign, it's now the "Spalding Pastoral Center."
Here's a shot of this classic Peoria building from the other side.
I'm not sure if this place is vacant or if there's anything happening in here, but there's only one way to find out and that's by climbing the stairs and seeing if there's any way to get inside.
If you look up above the stairway you see a nod to Spalding's past etched up above the archway.
And if you look over here, there's a buzzer. Let's press it and see what happens.
Holy guacamole, the doors just opened and we are buzzed in! That sure was easy!
Here's the foyer of the building, I'm not quite sure where to go or who buzzed me in at this point...
This is on the floor in the front foyer, I bet it's been here for a long time.
There's the office. If you're like me the school office still makes me nervous. I never had too many good times in the high school office, but I'm guessing it's where we need to go to keep this post alive. So it's through the door we go...
Well, it sure was a nice surprise as I walked through the door and met the husband and wife duo working here: John and Jackie Skender. They're two of the nicest people I've ever met and they're fans of the MBIP blog! It turns out Jackie's mom worked at Kitchen Cooked Potato Chips and we featured her photo on the post when we toured the Kitchen Cooked facility. It's the eighth photo down, check it out by clicking here. And of course that means we must cue this up! John and Jackie told me that the building is used for Cursillo's and for Teens Encounter Christ meetings these days. You can also rent the building out and for information about that you can call them at 309-676-5587. I asked if I could take a look around and John graciously said he'd give me a little tour! So it's off we go, I love it when things work out like this!
The first stop of the tour is this room right here in the office...
This used to be the principal's office. MBIP Contributing Writer Mike Foster went to Spalding and I wonder if this photo is making him squirm just a little bit.
This room is where the gym used to be, it's now used for a meeting room.
John told me that this is the original wood floor from Spalding's gym. Very cool!
The other half of what used to be Spalding's gym is now, "Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel."
John told me that they just remodeled the chapel three years ago. It's very nice in here.
John pointed out that the ceiling is also the original ceiling from days gone by when basketball games were held in this room.
The tour continues as John leads me up the staircase to the second floor.
John said that most of the classrooms were housed on this floor.
But now they're used for something different...
Now they're dormitory style sleeping rooms used for Cursillo and Teens Encounter Christ weekend retreats.
I followed John up yet another flight of stairs, wow, we're getting quite the workout today!
John told me there was something up here in the attic of the building he thought I might enjoy seeing. I'm wondering if there's like strippers and a full bar up here!
Well, there's no strippers or a bar up here, but this attic is so cool! See the graffiti over there? Well, that's just the beginning...
The walls up here are covered in graffiti from the '70's and '80's. If walls could speak from the past, they'd look like this.
John told me that kids congregated up here after working for the school and would hang out, smoke cigarettes and just be kids in this attic. Here's a tag from the '77 Work Crew. I'm hoping that some of the people that wrote this graffiti chime in here or on facecrack...is anybody out there from the '77 Work Crew?
Are you out there, Mike or Leo or Bob or Matt? Your tags are alive and well up in this attic!
Here's a tag from Mark Fiddes from the class of '76. Hey, that's the year I graduated, I bet we were at some of the same keggers back in the day!
Yet another Fiddes tag, this guy has certainly left his..."Mark" up here. Oof!
Dave Donnelly from 1972, I wonder if that's any relation to Terry and Molly Donnelly, the owners of Donnelly's Pub?
Could this be a tag from MBIP Contributor Bob Gordon?
As you can see from these old theater seats, it hasn't been dusted up here lately.
And since all this graffiti was done in the '70's and '80's, it only makes sense to leave you with this moment of Styx-like Zen. Thanks so much to John and Jackie for being so hospitable and for the tour! We'll see you all tomorrow!
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