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Northeast Peoria, August 2019

Perhaps I was being too optimistic when I first documented Peoria northeast of downtown back in 2013. I have been back, and while there is a wonderful group of houses that have been carefully restored back to their original grandeur, I’m still seeing a lot of abandonment and poverty in this portion of Peoria.

Take this beautiful Gothic Revival and Shingle Style church; it is still in use, and its congregation is working hard to fix windows, but there is clearly no outside help for them or anyone else in this neighborhood.

In fact, it makes me think: is there any chance that any presidential candidate from any political party will walk the streets of this neighborhood over the next year? I doubt it. This might be a tired cliche of the “forgotten America,” but it is based in fact.

Illinois is going for the Democratic nominee for president, even if it is a chicken wearing a bowtie, so consequently, all of America: the news media, both major political parties, academics, corporations, the average American, ignores the people who live in this struggling neighborhood.

There’s this house, that’s been fixed up, but it’s one out of hundreds of houses in this neighborhood. They do this largely out of their own civic and personal beliefs.

Or take this amazing Greek Revival house that’s been restored.

But these solid wood frame houses, built with wood brought down from the Northwoods of Minnesota and Wisconsin via Chicago’s vast rail network, are showing their age, and need massive capital investment to stay occupied.

But for the most part, the people who live along these streets of Middle America are anonymous, living in a country that doesn’t know what to do with a neighborhood such as the one northeast of downtown Peoria.

5 Comments

  1. “They do this largely out of their own civic and personal beliefs.”

    As they should. It isn’t the President of the United States’ job to walk every sidewalk in the country trying to fix all the cracks one sees.

    That is the responsibility of the local community. The Mayor of Peoria, their alderpersons, and most of all, THE PROPERTY OWNERS THEMSELVES.

    Be careful what you wish for with outside intervention. It may just end up that way and then you’ll be screaming about the individual (and their responsibilities) again and their rights, unless you are totally brainwashed by these commies!

    • But the President of the United States is the leader of all Americans, not just the ones he had to fight for to get elected.

    • And let me guess, you commute to work everyday on interstate highways, which I bet you think were built by the private sector, right?

  2. I travel through Peoria once or twice a year and am always astonished by the beautiful collection of homes and buildings. Thanks for sharing these photos, Chris!

  3. I would disagree with you that what is needed is massive capital investment, at least for the pictured houses. What is needed is time and effort.

    For instance, let us look at the green Italianate directly below your “massive capital investment” statement. What does it need to be restored.

    First, remove the Virginia Creeper from the side, which a dedicated homeowner could carefully remove for free in an afternoon. The curb appeal is immediately enhanced.

    Next, look at the foundation, which shows no signs of requiring repair. Next, look at the roof, which appears to be an old flat-seam roof, probably made from terne metal. It looks like it is in good shape; even if it has a few small areas of damage, those can be repaired easily by an experienced profession (which would cost a little bit of money, but less than putting a new roof on, even cheap asphalt shingles).

    Now to the wood siding, something classic and easy to repair. It needs to be repainted, but does not appear to be in bad condition; a homeowner can rent some scaffolding or a boom lift and do the painting themselves (personally, I am not a big fan of using ladders to paint). Some wood siding will probably need to be repaired due to exposure and moisture (the latter exacerbated by the Virginia Creeper). Non structural components can be repaired with various epoxies from companies like Abatron, even spongy pieces of wood (like window sills) can be reconsolidated, avoiding the hassle and expense of replacement.

    Finally, for this example, let us look at the windows. The past ten to fifteen years has seen everyone fall in love with cheap, vinyl replacement windows. The amount of money wasted on them is mind-boggling. Especially since they are pretty much a scam, as one installer told me once, “You know why they call them ‘replacement windows’? ‘Cause you keep having to replace them.” In this case, the historic wood windows have been retained. They are longer lasting, better for the environment, repairable, and with proper maintenance and storm windows, can equal the performance of replacement windows (exceeding the performance of the many cheaply-installed replacement windows). This house’s windows need reglazing (which can be done very inexpensively by a homeowner willing to invest some time into the project) and storm windows.

    I will not do any conjecturing on the interior, though a kitchen and bathrooms do tend to require exorbitant amounts of money. I will just reiterate my point that “massive capital investment” is required for restoring historic houses and neighborhoods. The combination of time and a willingness to make an effort are a much better substitute.

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