Last week I went to The Judge’s Chamber and tried to figure out if that was the oldest bar on Main Street or if The Basket Case is. The question never really got resolved, but it did lead to a comment on facecrack from Colleen Keown Buckley, who lives in New Jersey and here’s the comment and the online conversation between us that followed:
I love it when things like this happen because of the blog! Colleen’s husband is Pat Buckley and Pat sent me some photos and information about what just may be Peoria’s oldest standing tavern! Below are the vintage photos of Shelly Tavern from decades ago and some information and memories that Pat sent me.
Shelly Tavern - Photos and memories furnished by Pat Buckley
My grandfather was Lester Buckley and my grandmother was Goldie Buckley. I am not sure when my grandparents bought or opened the bar, but I remember my grandfather telling me that they did a lot of bootlegging during Prohibition, so it most likely was opened in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s.
My father, Gerald “Jack” Buckley and his brother, Robert Buckley grew up living above the tavern.
The Shelly Tavern sponsored many local basketball and baseball teams over the years (in this photo there is a banner on the wall that reads, in part, CHAMPS, Saratoga Jr. Bowling League 1941). In fact, around the 1930’s the Tavern sponsored my father and uncle who became the youngest brothers to win the annual Peoria Brother’s Bowling Tournament.
There are not a lot of stories that I can remember, but I recall my grandfather saying that the busiest time for the tavern was Sunday morning after church services. He also said that the local police would stop in and warn them about the parked cars, but that was quickly resolved with a few free shots of whiskey for the local officers, who left very happy.
My father and brother served proudly in World War II, and there is a picture of my Uncle Bob in uniform and my grandfather in the photo above.
In the photo above, my grandfather is second from the left kneeling and my grandmother is the lady standing on the right. Regretfully I do not know when they sold the tavern, but believe it was in the late 1940’s, when they retired and moved to a cottage in Rome, Illinois.
Thanks so much to Pat for supplying these family photos and writing his memories of the Shelly Tavern! And thanks to Colleen for making all of this happen via facecrack! And now, let’s go take a trip back to the present and take a look at the same building on Shelley Street which is now known as...
Here we are at the bar formerly known as the Shelly Tavern! The back parking lot hasn’t changed much and while there wasn’t a photo of the front of the tavern, I’m guessing it hasn’t either. It’s very cool that this place has been a tavern here in Peoria since the early ‘30’s, now let’s go inside and take a look in there!
Here we are, it’s nice and dark in here and it definitely has retained an old-school neighborhood tavern feel in here. There’s a group of people down at the end of the bar, let’s see if any of them want to pose for the MIBP Camera...
Yes! This trio of lovely ladies agreed to pose behind the bar and they are, from left: Cindy, Amy and Dawn. Dave is the owner (hence the name, “Dave’s Bar”) but he’s not here right now, but Cindy called him and he gave the okay to take a few photos in here, so let’s get clicking!
Here’s a couple shots of the front of the place, there’s gaming machines and a long table opposite the bar. And that’s Carlie with Cindy who was winning at the machines! Good for him!
Here’s the bar area and a long shot of the bar. This bar used to be a shuffleboard table! As I said earlier, you can definitely tell that there’s a neighborhood bar vibe in here!
At the other end of the room, opposite the bar is a pool table, paintings of NFL helmets and awards for the bar. Dave may not be here tonight, but he’s there in the last photo on the wall! Thanks to him and everyone at Dave’s Bar for the hospitality and letting me take photos inisde! And thanks again to Pat and Colleen Buckley for the Shelly Tavern photos and memories! I hope we can meet up on your next trip to P-town and meet at Dave’s Bar! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
901 S. Shelley Street