Unless you’ve been under a rock, you should know that Peoria City Hall just won a huge and prestigious national award! They won the “Best City Hall” national online contest sponsored by Engaging Local Government Leaders. Peoria’s City Hall was selected from over 200 applicants across the country to participate in this bracketed challenge. The contest started out with 64 contenders and then it slowly went down to 32 then16, 8, 4 and then...Peoria City Hall won the contest!
Throughout this contest, people from the area took selfies, they shared facebook posts and Twitter Tweets and Simantel even recorded a fight song for the contest! All of this perseverance and pride paid off and Peoria CIty Hall won the award pictured below.
After all of this hoopla, I felt a little embarrassed because I’ve never stepped foot in City Hall! So I decided to right this wrong and luckily with help from my friend, Stacy Peterson, who just happens to be the Communications Specialist for the city of Peoria, I got a grand tour of the building yesterday! And you can come along too, just keep on scrolling and check out the photos and tour below!
Here we are at Peoria City Hall! It’s such an impressive looking building from the outside, I can’t believe I’ve never walked inside of it! Well, here we go, feets, don’t fail me now!
I love the brick archway and the gold leaf letters that greet you as you enter the building. And speaking of love, here’s our tour guide for the day, Stacy Peterson! I love Stacy and she’s always so energetic and fun to hang out with! She also has a wealth of knowledge about the City Hall including these factoids: Construction was completed in 1899; the cost of the building was, $234,592; there’s Red Oak woodwork throughout the building with American marble flooring and Italian marble wainscoting. Stacy knows a lot more and she’ll share some more facts on this tour with us. (I wish I could show all of the photos I took yesterday, but there’s way too many for one post, so here’s the highlights!)
There’s a mural up on the ceiling of the front hallway which Stacy knows the historical background behind and I forgot to write it down, but it’s really beautiful in spite of my lack of notes! There’s also a statue called, “Love Knows No Caste” by artist, Fritz Triebel who studied art in Italy and grew up in the North Valley. The piece is from 1889. I love the woman’s foot and her toe ring!
Marble Stairway and Stained Glass
It’s worth the trip inside just to walk up the impressive marble stairs and look up and see the stained glass skylight hovering above. Also note the intricate ironwork on the railings, that and all of the ironwork in the building was done by A. Lucas and Sons who are still in business. I took several shots of the stained glass while walking up to see it on the top floor and the bottom photo is a vertigo-induced shot from the top of the stairs. A real Hitchcockian moment for me!
Stacy leads the way up the stairs as the tour continues!
Door Knobs and Student Artwork
Throughout the building there’s impressive Peoria City Hall intricate handmade door knobs on the doors. Also on the third and fourth floors are displays of art from local students and schools. I love the “Cake” piece of art! That was done by a student at Von Steuben Middle School and the assignment was to draw something they liked. What a great choice, who doesn’t like cake? The next display is from Lincoln Grade School and their assignment was to draw a famous person. They had to do research on the person and incorporate words from the research into the drawing. The top one is Muhammed Ali and below that is Dr. Martin Luther King. Wonderful artwork by these students!
More Art and Some Pointing
This is a painting by local artist, Lonnie Stewart from 1991. It was commissioned to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of European Peoria by the French. Tracy’s pointing to the painting which has someone pointing inside of it. I’m starting to get vertigo again! She’s pointing to Henri De Tonot whose nickname was “The Iron Hand” due to a grenade accident. Ouch! Next Tracy is pointing to a black and white photo of the Chambers here in City Hall, which naturally will lead us to...
The Chambers in City Hall
This is where all the city council meetings are held and other official things happen in here as well. The desks are the original desks from back in the day and I love the mural on the back wall. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Stacy told me that the mural features the spires of St. Marty’s Cathedral, factories on Peoria’s Distillery Row, the dome of the original courthouse and the books represent Bradley, which was then Polytechnic Institute.
The Bell Tower
Okay, now for something that’s really going to give me vertigo, a trip to the Bell Tower at the top of City Hall! It took all my courage to follow Stacy up there, but it was worth the trip!
That bell was built in 1865 and it was last rung on September 11th. I weighs 4,300 pounds and its now controlled by an electric mechanism at the Public Works facility. In addition to the bell, check out the view from up here!
To push my fear of heights a little further, Stacy said we could go out on to the roof overhang. So I did and nervously shot these photos of the breath-taking view from up here. I also saw graffiti from BIll Akers in 1977. You out there Bill? If so, maybe Stacy will give you a trip up here and you can update your graffiti! Okay, back inside and Now it’s time to climb back down for the last stop of the tour, which is...
Here’s Stacy’s office which is loaded with fun Peoria knick-knacks and artifacts. And of course there’s the Leslie Knope cardboard cutout that was so instrumental in the contest! I love the phrase they thought up for the contest which, as you can see, was, “Knope We Can Peoria!” Genius and hilarious all at the same time!
There’s a page from a Peoria Arts & Society feature on Stacy and it’s also got a picture of her parents up on top of the page! Stacy says in the article that they’ve had the greatest impact on her life. I’ve met her mom, Frank and she’s really a wonderful person...oh, okay, her mom's name isn't really Frank, it’s Franklin, but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret! Stacy also has a Chelsie Tamms Peoria sticker and underneath that is something really special, a bottle of “Essence of Peoria!” Wow, that’s a real artifact from the ‘80’s and check out the Book Emporium price tag on the bottom, a nice chunk of Peoria’s history!
At the end of the tour Stacy presented me with some parting gifts which was really a nice and thoughtful gesture! There’s a Peoria flag, lapel pin and a really cool book done by Arts Partners of Central Illinois called, “Peoria City Hall: A Visitor’s Guide Of Peoria’s Greatest Treasure.” I learned today that it certainly is! Thanks so much to Stacy Peterson for the super-fun tour, I had a blast and appreciate you taking the time to do this! And thanks for the Peoria gifts, I love them! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
419 Fulton Street
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