Way back in time Peoria was known for being a “Whiskey City” due to the number of distilleries in and around the area. But whiskey wasn’t the only libation that Peoria was famous for, three words says it all: Pabst Blue Ribbon. The Pabst Brewery started brewing PBR in Peoria Heights in 1934 and they eventually employed over 700 people. The brewery thrived until the ‘80’s and then business started going a little flat. They closed their doors in 1982 and the news even made the New York Times.
The brewery is gone, but at least the building is still standing tall on Prospect in Peoria Heights. These days the building is known as “The Peoria Heights Executive Building” but for a lot of us it will always be known at The Pabst Blue Ribbon Building. Let’s go take a look at it.
The building is one of the largest in Peoria Heights and I love the fact that they’ve kept the Pabst logo on the front of the structure.
PBR Ghosts in the Corporate World
The building now houses OSF, The Kim Group, Eagle Mortgage and a couple other companies. However there are a few ghosts left from the old days of PBR. Right above the doors is a faded reminder of what used to be here.
As you enter the lobby of the building, it looks like there’s no remnants of this building’s bubbly past, but if you head down the hallway to the left and look upward you’ll see one last reminder in this section of the building.
A Hidden Jewel
The other side of the building is home to Pettet Jewelry Designs Ltd. When you walk into the locally owned jewelry store, it looks elegant and impressive, but if you look to the left, you’ll find something that a lot of Peorians don’t know exists...
This space used to be The “33” Room, which was a bar that Pabst used to entertain clients and visitors. The name comes from the fact that it took 33 brews to get the true Pabst Blue Ribbon flavor.
Sadly the taps don’t work, but they’re still cool to look at. I’m getting thirsty!
There’s some Pabst cans from the Pabst and the one under the glass dome is a very special can.
This is Brad Pettet, the owner of the jewelry store holding that can. The can is one that Brad made back in 1974 when he worked at Continental Can while attending Bradley University. This was the very first can he made and he saved it. Brad’s been in the jewelry business for 25 years and he’s been in this spot for the last six years.
He said that when he looked at the space six years ago, it had been an office space and the entire “33” Room was walled off and you couldn’t even see it. There was a door that led into it and he said when he looked at the bar he immediately said, “I’ll take it!”
Brad told me that his lease is up in a little over a year and then he’s retiring. Who knows if the new tenant will keep this chunk of Pabst history alive, so you might want to go see it while it’s still here!
The PBR Building After Dark
I wanted to get some photos of the building after the horrible sun went down, so last night I went and shot this trilogy of photos of the PBR Building at night. Cheers!