President’s Message

The calendar may not say it, and maybe not the weather either – depending on when you read this – but summer is over. Bradley is back in session and most of Peoria’s schools are teeming with children and young adults.  

September 2014 Agenda-2There has been a lot of activity taking place in our neighborhood since we last met in May at the Annual Meeting and Potluck Dinner. The Peoria Marathon made its way along High Street and down Moss avenue on a crisp, yet sunny morning in mid-May. The race organizers and participants stated how much they appreciated the support of our neighborhood and were impressed by the encouragement shown to the runners.  

One of the true signs of summer, the annual Moss Avenue Sale & Festival, took place on a gorgeous Saturday in June. Reports back from the committee charged with the event report a great day of sales and very happy vendors. If you were out on the street that day, you realized how successful this year’s event was. We need to thank Jan Krouse, who has chaired this event for so many years, for her dedication to making this an extraordinary event. And kudos to her entire team for making it work so seamlessly!

We continue to see a revival of two important elements within our boundaries. Earl Power Murphy and his wife Natalia Villanueva Linares are moving forward with their plans to restore the Hale Memorial Church located at the corner of High and Main streets. Their recent month-long Indiegogo crowd funding campaign, along with some additional donations, have provided them the funding to repair portions of the exterior of the building including the roof, gutters, and doors. On July 23, 2014 they received a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission allowing them to commence with the repairs.

Also along Main St., the Renaissance Park Community Association continues to focus their collective energy on projects and events that improve the safety, health, and welfare of our neighbors and make West Main Street/Renaissance Park a better place to live and do business. Two recent events, “Better Blocks Project” proved to be huge success bringing large attendance and introducing our neighborhood to even more people.

This summer has also seen very positive action taken with the Washington School located at 839 Moss. The use proposal, submitted by the Montessori School, was approved first by the MBRA then by the Peoria City Council. According to John Meredith Cox, Head of School for Montessori, plans are to work on the school immediately and begin classes there full-time, Fall of 2015.

The MBRA Board of Directors continues to work closely with Westminster Presbyterian Church on a resolution to their request to replace the existing reader board. The issue first went before the Historic Preservation Commission in May and has been continued to the August meeting. There should be an update on this at the September MBRA membership meeting. There is quite a bit that has gone on in the few short month since May. And much more to take place in the remaining few months of this year.

I hope you enjoy the Fall and the beauty it brings!

Brian Buralli

Message from Councilman Chuck Grayeb

chuck-grayebGreetings! Hard to believe but the dog days of August have passed and students are back to school. We have some interesting mural work at the Sunbeam Building, and this will be just the beginning. Entrepreneurs continue to be good neighbors, with the Muir Building getting a fresh coat of paint as well as the old Church Mouse building, now the site of an Anglican Communion. West Main Liquours will soon have to change its mode of operation and hopefully become an asset to the West Bluff.

We have recently brought back walking police patrols and will continue with them as needed. The patrol stretches from North Street to University. The City continues to take action on out of control properties in the Roanoke Street area and I will not rest until stability returns there. For the first time in decades, an arrest has been made for criminal housing management in the City of Peoria, pursuant to the recently enacted serial predatory (targeted offender) slumlord law. Heads up! Our neighborhoods will not accept predators who house the lawless and who do not maintain their properties. Several other landlords are being investigated now. Code enforcement has also been working on decrepit and nuisance properties on South University, which have been allowed to languish for many years. 

I am happy to say that the Great Road Reconfiguration is mostly built out,  with adjustments still to be made in the Uplands and University East and MBRA territories. Three million dollars have been spent in less than a year to refresh and renew our old decaying infrastructure. We are on the move! We are busy doing preconstruction and post construction count comparisons. Right now, the Sterling Road work in District Two will affect any count . It will take some time to really get a handle on numbers, as more drivers are learning to avoid the West Bluff as a cut through. I will have the engineers present at the September MBRA Meeting, and they will be all ears. With the new Montessori School beginning its operation in 2015 at 839 W. Moss, it is even more important to scrutinize the stretch of Moss east of University. A few of you have contacted me with great suggestions, and I have shared them with the engineers. 

A new West Main Merchants Association has arisen phoenix-like and Renaissance Park Community Association continues its great work. Would we really want to live in any other place in Peoria? The Second District is truly the Heart of Peoria and is second to none. Continue to watch the transformation north of (one of our 9-12 high schools) Peoria High School. This too is a legacy project. What an exciting yet challenging time! See you on September 3.

A Tour of the Moss-Bradley Neighborhood

Submitted by: Brian Buralli • Photo Courtesy of Raphael Rodolfi1528-moss

Neighborhood… “a particular region,” “people living near one another.” This is how Websters defines “neighborhood”, but a visit to the Moss-Bradley neighborhood will show you how incomplete this definition is. We are a group of people, in a variety of houses, amid the culture of a university, in the center of a city, who work together to create a very special living environment.

In the early twentieth century, High Street and Moss Avenue attracted many wealthy Peorians – they used their imagination and money to build their dream houses on the bluff. This opulence can still be found in the ornamental ironworks, turrets, and fish scale shingles that adorn many of our neighborhood’s homes.

The years have brought many alterations, but as you walk through our neighborhood you will still find the beauty and attention to detail that made this area Peoria’s preeminent neighborhood in the late nineteenth century. You will see careful workmanship throughout the area – from the substantial “four squares” to the small worker cottages.

Each month, we will feature a home or significant property within Moss-Bradley.

This month it is 1528 W. Moss Avenue, currently the home of David Wentworth and Beth Jensen.  

Built in 1890, this property was originally served as the residence for Charles S. Easton. It was designed by Henry Ives Cobb an architect of many early buildings at the University of Chicago.

Cobb was in charge of planning and design for Peoria’s Bradley Polytechnic Institute, now know as Bradley University. The Chicago Interocean newspaper described this home as southern colonial style.

Get to Know Your Neighbor – Jan Krouse

Submitted by Brian Buralli

Jan KrouseStreet you live on:
Moss Ave

My daughter, Ciana Sheldon lives next door to me on Moss.

Where were you born:
Hornell, NY

Who was the most influential person to you:
My parents – my Dad’s favorite saying was “don’t sweat the small stuff” and that has served me well.

What type of music are you listening to now:
Listen to many different genres, from classic rock to some country and the standards. Favorites are the Eagles, James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg and Frank Sinatra.  Oh, and Three and a Half Men!

What was your first job:
During high school did a lot of babysitting. First real job was a bank teller.

What accomplishment are you most proud of:
Raising my beautiful daughter into the woman she is today.

What is special about where you live:
The neighbors. When Del and I moved to Moss Ave in January 1996, we quickly became aware of the specialness of this neighborhood. There is a generosity of spirit in this neighborhood that is unique. My neighbors have become more like family, looking out for each other and always willing to give advice, lend a hand, offer comfort and share their love.

Thru the Windshield…How do we look to those passing by?

Submitted by: Marjorie Klise

Our new year has begun and the Moss Bradley Residential Association calls its members and friends to join in making sure that our neighborhood is one that is strong, inclusive, friendly and productive. With that in mind we will take a few minutes here to take inventory and make sure that we are reaching those ambitious goals.

Are we strong?  Our voices are heard and respected by city officials. We host candidates’ night and vote in large numbers. We carry out activities and projects that promote our area and the good of the city as a whole.

Are we inclusive? All residents are part of any discussion, paid members or not. Renters are welcome as members and their input is appreciated. We coexist with educational and religious institutions where we support each other and work out difference when they occur.

Are we friendly? No one parties like we do! Our front porches are always filled with neighbors and conversation. The amazing number of dog-walkers act as ‘town criers’ and they spread the news to all.

Are we productive?  We raise funds to support our efforts. Our Moss Ave Sale and annual dues make possible our holiday evergreen swags, our Patriotic Ice cream Social and other celebrations thruout the year. We are represented at City hall commissions and hearings. We contribute financially and offer support  to other organizations that promote neighborhood health.

BUT, there is always room for improvement. So come to our next meeting…..the first Wednesday of every month…and help us do even better. We all have ideas…and complaints…and questions…and solutions.  Come with your ideas and questions. Bring your plans. Listen to others. Our Board of Directors will ask and we will tell and MBRA will be even stronger, more inclusive, friendlier and more productive because of you!

Let’s Run It Up the Flagpole…

Submitted by Mary Ann Armbruster

In November 2013, at a general meeting of the MBRA, Mary Ann Middleton, a long-time champion of our neighborhood and our country, proposed that a plaque be installed at Tricorn Park, commemorating the placement of the flagpole which flies the United States flag more than 70 feet over the intersection.

The current Board of MBRA is working to fulfill that request and we will soon have a date for an official dedication. Mary Ann Middleton participated in the research and planning up until her untimely death on May 31st, 2014.  

The story of how the flagpole got to the park turned out to be a tale of imagination, neighborhood camaraderie and hard work. It all started one evening in 1975. The USA was approaching the 200th anniversary of its founding and plans were afoot all over the country for celebration. Moss Avenue residents Eleanor Heinz-Dries and Shirley Hanley were having a neighborly conversation and bandying about ideas for a patriotic party. As Shirley Hanley later told it to the community newspaper, the West Bluff Word, Eleanor said she would donate her sixty-five foot flag pole to be placed on the triangle if someone would move it over there. The flagpole of which she spoke had been placed in the backyard of Eleanor’s home at 1222 W. Moss by Murray Baker when he built the home in 1912. (Murray Baker was a founder of Caterpillar, and that’s another rich bit of Moss Avenue history!).

Shirley Hanley’s husband, John Patrick Hanley, was enlisted to take on the job of moving the flagpole. His family’s steel fabricating company, A. Lucas, would prove an invaluable ally when it came to equipment and know-how. Neighbors rallied round, completing paperwork for the city and park district, digging, welding, and painting, and finally, with the help of Hamm Erection Company, hoisting the flagpole into the ground. The triangle of ground was christened Tricorn Park, after the shape of the hats worn by Revolutionary War soldiers.

The celebration that ensued on July 4, 1975 included bagpipes, a clerical invocation, city officials and throngs of neighbors. The Dries family raised the first flag, which was donated by Mayor Carver and had been flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The West Bluff Word story concluded by saying that “the true heart of this story is the spirit and determination of people when they want to get a job done.”

Future issues of the MBRA Newsletter will include more stories about Tricorn Park, its history, the brick project of the 1980s, the restoration project in 2008, and the on-going dedication to it’s maintenance by many neighbors.

Kallister Realty

Submitted by Ami Suzuki

Kallister-JohnIn 1939, Helen Kallister opened a real estate office above her husband’s Peoria south end grocery store to supplement the family’s income. She quickly developed the public’s trust with her casual and comfortable style.

As her reputation grew, so did her business. Her motto “Treat people like you want to be treated,” was passed down to her family members and is still practiced today.

In the ‘70s, Tom Kallister relocated the office to Peoria’s West Main Street and  also purchased a home on Moss Ave, where he lives today.

In 2002, Tom sold the business to John McDonald. Shortly thereafter, Kallister Realty moved to their second Main Street location, 512 W Main Street. Recently, John McDonald received the 2014 West Bluff Pillar Award for years of dedication and commitment improving Peoria’s West Bluff.

A majority of the agents who work for Kallister Realty live in older homes and the neighborhoods surrounding Bradley University.

We are a member of the Peoria Area Association of Realtors and Multiple Listing Service. We list/sell Residential, Multi-family, Commercial and Lots/Acreage. We have grown to serve the entire Peoria area. We specialize in the older neighborhoods, Historic Districts and Homes.

While John gets three or more offers each year to move the company further north or join a National franchise, he graciously refuses to do so.  Since so many of our customers today are friends, relatives, children and grandchildren of our original customers.

The Central Illinois Jazz Society

Submitted by: Dick Marsho, President

The Central Illinois Jazz Society
Serving Central Illinois Since 1978 presents CIJS House Band at 6:00 p.m.

Featuring Guest Group Central Illinois Jazz Orchestra at 7:15 p.m.

Sunday, September 21, 2014
The Starting Gate Banquet Room, located in Landmark Recreation Center
3225 N. Dries Lane, Peoria
(Parking is available in Landmark lot and across Dries Lane)

The Central Illinois Jazz Orchestra (CIJO), founded in 1998, is from Peoria. The CIJO is a sixteen-piece big band, which is committed to keeping the big band jazz sound alive. Originally called the New Millennium Big Band, the CIJO is made up of professional and semi-professional musicians from the Heart of Illinois that include music educators, business professionals, and full-time performers. The group plays classic jazz charts from Count Basie to Stan Kenton and from Duke Ellington to Maynard Ferguson.

They have established themselves as one of the hardest swinging bands in the Midwest. Dr. Todd Kelly, Director of Jazz Ensembles at Bradley University, fronts the CIJO and plays lead trumpet. The CIJO performed at the 2003 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. They recently found a new home at the Fieldhouse in Bradley’s Campustown, where they play the first Wednesday of each month. Those who regularly attend our monthly programs know many of these talented musicians. The CIJO does swing! You may want to dance to a few of these songs. Invite a friend and see them in action.

The Central Illinois Jazz Society (CIJS) House Band will play during the first set, under the leadership of Larry Harms. The CIJS House Band features outstanding jazz musicians from the area. They will entertain you with a mixture of jazz styles. For more information call 692-5330 or visit For more information about our location, visit Food and beverages are available for purchase at this live jazz program.

Admission:  $5.00 Members     $7.00 Non-Members     Students are free

Upcoming Events: October 19 and November 16

St. Mark’s School Updates

This past summer was a busy time at St. Mark School. We hosted Totus Tuus, a fun religious education program, Camp S’Mores, a three-week academic enrichment camp, and basketball camps for boys and girls. We also continue to make improvements to our school building and got a new roof this summer and brand new desks for almost all the classrooms. Students, staff and priests participated in the West Peoria Fourth of July Parade, where our awesome float took first place in the juvenile division!

St Mark's Trophy

As great as summer was, the 2014-15 year will be even better. To our talented and experienced faculty, we welcome four energetic new teachers and one aide. Karen Campbell will be the new PreK teacher assisted by new aide Rita Merkle. Alyssa McClenthen is the new second grade teacher, Jennifer Campbell will be the new third grade teacher, and Ashleigh Koch will be instructing all of our students in music. All of our new teachers are recent Bradley University graduates!

We are also excited about our new writing curriculum, Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study Writing Program, which will teach students opinion, informative, and narrative writing across the curriculum. To this program, we add expanded hours to our school library for a wonderful enhancement of our language arts.

We invite you to stop by St. Mark School to see all the exciting changes taking place.

Latest from Renaissance Park

Submitted by Jessica McGheeRenaissance Park-2

In May of 2014, after four years of regularly taking on projects, but being rather loosely organized, the Renaissance Park Community Association (RPCA) decided to incorporate as a not-for-profit and work towards becoming a 501c3. We brought in two mentors to help us navigate that process – Jennifer Brewer Zammuto, who works for the Caterpillar Foundation, and Jon C. Neidy who works with both the United Way and the Acorn Equality Fund. With their advice we were able to move forward in completing our goal. RPCA is now a fully insured, not-for-profit, 501c3. With this status, we now become eligible for grants and fundraising opportunities, which would be put right back into the West Main corridor.

Recently, The Renaissance Park Community Association began working with The Peoria Police Explorers, a group of young men and women ages 14 – 20, who hope to someday become police officers themselves. They’ve come out into our community on their own to conduct clean-ups, and also join us for our monthly clean-ups. We’re very excited to be working with them!

In recent months, in addition to our clean-ups, we’ve been working with local businesses to make minor facade improvements to their property – scraping windows, painting rusty posts, painting doors, etc. We’re also working with local property owners to take tours of their empty storefronts so that we can photograph them and help to promote them in an effort to get new tenants here.

In September or October of this year, we hope to have started and possibly finished a public art project on the white Muir building on West Main. This project will include one large, multi-artist mural on the side of the building, as well as interchangeable art panels on the front of the building. Jessica Ball is the owner of The Art Garage on West Main and is the leader of our public art committee. She’s been working with the city, Andrew Muir, UE Neighborhood Association resident Nick Viera and various local artists to make this happen. 

On August 2, members of the Whiskey City Collaborative hosted an event called “Better Block” at the corner of Main and Sheridan. Members of the Renaissance Park Community Association, Start-Up Peoria and Bike Peoria volunteered to build outdoor furniture, place plants and barricades, put up temporary crosswalks, temporary outdoor seating and fill the empty storefronts with tenants for the day. The idea was to showcase what this corner could look like if our sidewalks were wider, if people were able to cross the street safely in multiple spots within a mile long stretch of road (instead of just one spot), if we had more greenery, if all of the businesses were full.

We also hosted live music and theater in the community garden all day. We were delighted to see the amount of families who came out to picnic in the garden and to just enjoy walking along West Main, taking in the shops and sights.

Renaissance Park-1Every Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., members of the community association meet at a West Main business for dinner or dessert. Anyone is welcome to join us – we’ve found that these dinners not only help to support our local business community, but they’ve also strengthened the relationships we have with our neighbors, many of whom we did not know until we sat down to dinner with them. We put notifications out on both twitter and facebook each week regarding which restaurant we will be visiting that week.

We continue to meet at 4:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month, in the 600 block of West Main. We have the formal portion of our meeting from 4:00 to 4:30 p.m., and the community service portion from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Anyone is invited to come to our meetings and take part in our activities – they’re actually a lot of fun!

Twitter: @RPCApeoria


Renaissance Park - 2

Peoria County Presents Community Workshops

Each spring and fall, Peoria County offers free public workshops through Illinois Central College’s Adult Community Programs to help raise awareness of county government services. This fall, Peoria County is offering three beneficial workshops for anyone interested in learning more about emergency preparedness, self defense techniques, or local sustainability efforts. Each workshop is held at ICC’s North Campus on University Street and interested persons can register online at or by calling 690.6900. 

For more information about any of the following workshops, please contact Peoria County’s Director of Strategic Communications Jenny Fulton at 309.672.6918 or 

It Can Happen To You
Thursday, September 18
6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

After last November’s tornadoes, we now know that disaster can happen to us. How we fare after a house fire, flash flood, tornado, or any other type of disaster depends on how well we’re prepared beforehand. Emergency management experts will discuss preparedness steps, explain how to identify points of contact and create an emergency plan, and describe how to build an emergency supply kit for your home and auto. September is Emergency Preparedness Month; join us this month and become better prepared before the next disaster strikes Central Illinois. 

Protect Yourself
October 16
6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Learn how to protect yourself if attacked. Peoria County Sheriff’s personnel will describe and demonstrate self defense techniques that may save your life. Participants will have an opportunity to practice self defense techniques in a controlled environment.

Sustainability for the Entire Community
November 20
6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Peoria County is becoming a leader in sustainability, to the benefit of all residents and visitors in our region. The County’s Recycling Educator will describe local government efforts to conserve resources and preserve our environment for future generations. Participants in this workshop will learn specific actions they can do at home and work to improve economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Join our STAR Community today so others can enjoy it tomorrow! 

Vendor Fair Sponsored by Friends of Rocky Glen

Friends of Rocky Glen is sponsoring a vendor fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28 at the Landmark Recreation Center, 3225 N. Dries Lane, Peoria.

A variety of vendors will have goods available for sale. The book Horseshoe Bottoms, and Friends of Rocky Glen memberships will be available. Adjacent to the Fair, “The Bullpen” sports bar inside Landmark will be open and serving several drink specials.

Funds raised will go towards a parking lot and trails so that Rocky Glen can be opened to the public. 

Rocky Glen is a box canyon with 80-foot sandstone walls covered with carvings, seasonal waterfalls, rare plant communities and a rich history of coal mining, labor organizing and outdoor recreation.

Rocky Glen came into public ownership in December 2012 when it was purchased using previously set aside natural areas funding. The property was transferred to the Peoria Park District in December 2013. Currently Rocky Glen is only accessible on Friends of Rocky Glen monthly hikes and during other approved events. Friends of Rocky Glen is a non-profit group dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Rocky Glen.

More information is available on the Facebook page for the event at 

2014 Henri de Tonti Award to Honor Ray LaHood

The Board of Trustees of the Peoria Historical Society, in conjunction with the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University is pleased to honor former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Honorable Ray LaHood with the 2014 Henri de Tonti Award for Outstanding Principled Community Leadership.  An award ceremony will be held Saturday, September 27 at 6:00 p.m. in the Peoria Civic Center ballroom.

The de Tonti award was established in 2012.  It is presented annually to a tri-county individual, business or organization with a consideration of the following attributes:

  • Community leadership based on a foundation of integrity and high ethical principle,
  • Community leadership operating in a bipartisan and collaborative manner,
  • Community leadership focused on finding solutions to critical issues,
  • Community leadership dedicated to promoting positive attributes of the area communities,
  • Community leadership committed to developing future principled public service leaders, and
  • Community leadership devoted to promoting and advancing Peoria’s historical heritage.

The award is named after the French fur trader Henri de Tonti.  He was the principle figure in the fur trade in the Illinois Country for twenty years and in 1691 established the first French trading outpost on the shores of Lake Pimiteoui.  Tonti also built a fort at the site which was called Fort Pimiteoui.  The small French village and Jesuit Mission at the site were located in the vicinity of today’s Detweiller Marina at the foot of Caroline Street.  Tonti directed fur trading operations at the Lake Pimiteoui village for eleven years until he moved south to New Orleans in 1702.

The inaugural de Tonti award was presented in 2012 to Caterpillar Inc. in recognition of over 100 years of community leadership provided by employees of the company.  Last year, the award was presented to Illinois State Senator Dave Koehler in recognition of his exemplary leadership as a member of the Peoria City Council as well as representing the area in Springfield.

While there are many examples of the leadership Mr. LaHood has brought to the Tri-County area over his years of public service, he is being recognized specifically for his leadership and creativity in the development of the Peoria Riverfront Museum project.

The de Tonti Award celebration will be held at the Peoria Civic Center ballroom beginning at 6:00 pm on Saturday, September 27.  Reservations for individual tickets ($150 per person) or tables of ten ($1,500) may be made through the Peoria Historical Society website at or by calling the Society office at 309. 674.1921.