Down by the River, Peoria, Illinois

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Update: I’ve continued to revisit this corner of Peoria on multiple occasions, including September of 2015, again in August of 2019, yet again in July of 2021, and  in August of 2023.

Peoria is really a cool city; architecturally it reminds me of a lot of mid-sized Illinois cities: lots of four-squares and wood, balloon frame houses with interesting ornamentation. Unlike St. Louis, there was never a building code that required all brick in the central city neighborhoods. So instead of whole rows of brick houses, Peoria has wood houses accented with the occasional brick house. It is interesting to compare St. Louis to Peoria, especially considering how close the two cities are.

The house above sits in that awkward zone that surrounds every urban interstate, but unlike many cities, the disruption from I-74 is not nearly as bad. This is clearly one of the oldest mansions left in the downtown area.

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In particular, one block in the neighborhood down by the Illinois River intrigued us the most. We are certain that two or three years ago, every building and house was vacant, but this summer at least a couple of the houses are reoccupied.

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Two large apartments, which remind me of the type found in the Central West End or Chicago, still sit empty, and are boarded up.

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But this house is occupied, and the ornate, fanciful decorations of the dwelling are now safe from the bulldozers.

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While this large apartment building sits empty, there are signs of life all throughout the neighborhood.

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The house below, we deduced, is actually the carriage house of a now missing mansion whose grassy footprint still points to its existence on the front of the property. The carriage house has been very well restored. I would have loved to see its original house. I like the diversity of housing stock in this neighborhood; it was clearly middle to upper class, and remains so.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom Maher-Kirkwood says:

    WOW – that is the CARRIAGE house?

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yes, I know. I wish I could have seen the house.

  2. Christopher Callen says:

    Thank You for kindly and honestly ‘ showcasing ‘ my hometown! I’ve always felt that Peoria has more in common with St. Louis than it does Chicago, despite their outside-the-state circumstances.

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