Almost four years ago to this date, MBIP Contributing Writer, Bob Gordon put up a post here called, “Pretty Vacant: Empty Storefronts And Ghosts From Peoria’s Past.” One of the photos he took was the empty Cohen’s building on the corner of Adams and Harrison shown below:
The building was somewhat of a dilapidated eyesore back in March of 2013 when Bob took that photo for the MBIP post. Well, I’m happy to report that the building is history now. Literally! Follow along and I’ll show you the historical fact that I discovered about the Cohen’s building this week!
The other day after I left the Persimmon Lofts building I noticed that the Cohen building on the corner of Adams and Harrison was looking pretty spiffy and it appears to have a fresh coat of paint on it. So I decided to take a closer look.
As I got closer I noticed it was freshly painted and there was signage in all of the windows. The first sign I saw was this one that said, “Building A History.” Well, I looked at the other windows and there’s a time-captioned photo-history of this building in the windows here! I’ve never seen anything like this in another building in Peoria, so I thought I’d take some pictures and you can follow this Peoria history lesson along with me. So let’s make like Elvin Bishop, put on our traveling shoes and go back in time through the windows here in the Cohen Building!
1891—The Paddock Block Building
The first stop on this window shopping history lesson is The Paddock Block Building. I couldn’t find a lot of information on this building, but I did find out it was designed and constructed by James Deal, who has quite a history with buildings and architecture here in Peoria. You can read more about him and the buildings he was part of by clicking here.
1894—Rouse Hazard & Company
In 1925, the name that most of us associate with this building moved in here, Cohen’s Furniture. Here’s a full page advertisement celebrating that fact. As I was looking at this artifact of history from 1925 in this window one thing really stuck with me and that’s the fact that the photo of this guy in the lower right under the illustration has a striking resemblance to Van Cliburn. I wondered how many other people would notice this similarity and then it bothered me that I was even thinking about Van Cliburn at all. I’ve never really listened to his music and I don’t know why his memory is stuck in my brain. I’m sure he never thought about me one stinking second in his life. Which brings me to the following thought: Fuck Van Cliburn!
1932—Cohen Furniture Company: Time Marches On
Here’s a two page newspaper ad from 1932 for the Cohen Furniture Company. I decided not to look at this too closely for fear of seeing another Van Cliburn look-a-like. Yes, Van Cliburn is ruining my historical visit here and I would wish him death except for the fact that he died in 2013. So I can’t even have the simple pleasure of wishing death on this piano playing son of a shit-livered bitch. Which leads me once again to this mental note: Fuck Van Cliburn!
1936—Cohen Furniture Co. - Established In 1879?
This window with photos from 1936 proclaiming that Cohen's was "established in 1879," confuses me because the grand opening took place in 1925, according to the third window. History can be very puzzling sometimes!
I love this panoramic photo from 1965. Downtown Peoria was alive and thriving back then!
But by 1991, the Northwoods Mall had gone up and other shopping options had hurt the downtown Peoria retail stores and Cohen’s Furniture store closed down. I spoke with a representative from the Cohen Development Company yesterday and she told me that they’re in talks hoping to get someone to move in and refurbish this building. That would be great if that would happen! I’d love to see another vacant building come alive in downtown Peoria just like what we saw happen with the old Fleming Potter building that is now Persimmon Lofts. But till then, it’s a nice history lesson here in the windows of the Cohen Building. And I hope that the lesson we’ve all learned today is this...
Fuck Van Cliburn! We’ll see you all tomorrow!