President’s Message – March 2016

It goes without saying our neighborhood is important to us. We have invested a great deal to create and maintain a quality of life that is hard to find within this city, let alone central Illinois. This investment covers many different areas but is really focused on the financial investment we all make to have and maintain our homes along with the investment of time to better the neighborhood, our community and the quality of life we all experience.

As an organization, the Moss Bradley Residential Association has been committed to forwarding this movement of investment. Some of this investment is very tangible. But a good portion of this commitment is behind the scenes. I’d like to use this message to convey to you two important programs and ask for you to assist the board with both of them.

To recognize individuals who have or are making a difference in our neighborhood, the MBRA board is introducing two annual awards which will be presented at the Annual Meeting & Potluck dinner held each May.  The recognitions are for Volunteer of the Year and MBRA Beautification. The criteria and nominating process can be found here.  The intent behind these awards is to formally recognize those individuals who really do make a difference for all of us through their time commitment or improvement of their property.

Please take a moment to read through the criteria and send in your nomination to recognize those people who make a difference. Deadline for accepting submissions is March 31st, 2016.Award recipients will be announced at the annual meeting on May 4th.

In addition to time and talent, the Moss Bradley Residential Association also make a financial commitment to the neighborhood. We have been very fortunate over the past years to have had ever-growing success with the Moss Avenue Antique Sale & Festival. What started out as a means of assisting with the financing of the Hanging of theGreens has grown into a very strong event, which now helps us reinvest in the neighborhood.

We have invested the funds wisely so that the Association remains strong and viable for a very long time. The MBRA board realized a number of years ago that it was the wise and right thing to do to reinvest funds generated through the annual sale back into the neighborhood.

Some of those projects have included the purchase and installation of period-specific sign posts along Moss Ave and the inner streets of the MBRA area (to be completed spring 2016), investment in the Greenway project along Western Avenue and the purchase of shares in the Moss Bradley Revolving Fund.

We have also provided financial gifts to organizations such as: Look. It’s My Book – an organization that provides books to each children in kindergarten through fourth grade to strengthen learning and instill a life-long love of reading; and The Penguin Project – a program to give children with special needs an opportunity to participate in the performing arts.
These are but a few of the projects and organizations we have invested in, but provide you an insight to our commitment to the betterment of our neighborhood and our community.

From this, there are two things I ask of you: Please take a moment to nominate an individual who you feel should be recognized for the volunteer commitment to MBRA and an individual who has made improvements to their property. You can  do so online at I also ask you to provide us with some suggestions of projects or an organization, for our community reinvestment. You can do so by contacting any board member or submitting them to us via email at Please provide each of these to us no later than March 31, 2016

Message from Councilman Chuck Grayeb

chuck-grayebSignificant safety issues for Whittier Elementary School students and residents have been reported to me, and I have asked Deputy Director of Public Works Scott Reeise to address them. We explored them at a recent MBRA meeting. I wish to thank City Manager Patrick Urich for immediately talking to the Principal of Whittier School after I brought these concerns to his attention.  When you read this, we will already have conducted a colloquium with Cottage District residents to consider appropriate traffic calming measures for this great neighborhood.

I recently met with the newly appointed President of Bradley University and assured him that a strong town/ gown relationship remains a priority of ours. He indicated that continued emphasis on public safety was very important to Bradley University and its personnel and that they would be continuing to review potential public safety emergencies, which might require a coordinated response from both the BU and Peoria Police Departments. I

have received overwhelming and highly positive response from all of you about the four electronic sign boards installed on Moss Avenue. Soon, additional speedtable work and handicap accessibility work will be done east ofMacArthur Highway along Moss Avenue.  In addition, work on Sheridan Road in general (and its bridge at Richmond) will soon commence as we complete University Street from Forrest Hill to War Drive.

Exciting business development initiatives are in the offing and additional announcements will be forthcoming for West Main Street as well.

Moss / Bradley is a great neighborhood and its engaged residents have made it so. I know Beth, Sid, and I are proud to serve you. Having two At-Large Councilors so eager to help us is huge. Our City Staff continues to provide topnotch service for a district Second to None! Also, kudos to Andrew Rand and Advanced Medical Transport for their many contributions to our Community. AMT was honored for its involvement at the State of the City Address delivered by Mayor Jim Ardis. AMT is a great Second District and City of Peoria business and made a critical decision to expand their operation in District Two a couple of years ago. Kudos need to go to Deb Dougherty, our newest member of the Historic Preservation Commission. Thank you Brian Gruber for your presentation and work on the Peoria Promise program which helps so many of our students. Best wishes for an early Springtime of renewal and hope.


Moss Avenue Antique Sale & Festival

Mark your calendars for the 36th annual Moss Avenue Sale & Festival on Saturday, June 11, 2o16.  The funds we raise from this sale help us to beautify our neighborhood, decorate the lamp posts with holiday greens, support causes that affect our quality of life, and many other issues that arise throughout the year. Participant applications will be sent out in late March

‘Like’ the Moss Bradley Residential Association or the Moss Avenue Antique Sale & Festival on Facebook for updates

For more information, contact Jan Krouse at (309)-676-7900.


Meet Your Neighbors! Deb and Tom Dougherty

By Mary Ann Armbruster

tddDeb and Tom Dougherty had just finished remodeling and rehabbing an 1894 farm house in, Princeville, when Tom came home one day and said, “My favorite house on Moss Avenue is for sale. Let’s go take a look.”  Deb was feeling the winter ice and isolation in Princeville where they were 45 minutes away from everything and had recently struggled to free their automobile from a monstrous snow bank.  “OK,” she said, “let’s go look.”

Now, three years later, they and Beamish, their Golden Retriever, are happily part of the Moss-Bradley neighborhood in a 126 year old home on Moss Avenue.    For Tom, it’s a return to the family stomping grounds.  His grandfather and father before him grew up here.  As a boy, Tom lived on Cooper Street near the Bradley campus.  Like his father, he attended St. Mark’s Grade School.  He then went on to Spalding, and the University of Illinois. As an adult he rehabbed and lived in a house on Sherman Avenue.   Deb says they feel a friendly connectedness and very much at home on Moss Avenue.

Deb’s grew up in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, graduated from U of I at Springfield and ISU. She has been a teacher for 25 years, and has been teaching History and Political Science at Illinois Central College for 18 years. Tom has had a long career in landscaping, beginning at the age of 16 working for Tie City on Farmington Road and is now the owner his own company, Good Earth Landscaping. In fact, he and Deb met 10 years ago this Spring at the Home Show in Peoria where she had gone with a friend to get ideas for the yard of her home in Washington.   She says that Tom came to her home offering “mulch samples” though in reality he only had available one color of mulch.

Deb and Tom’s family includes Tom’s children, MJ, attending Columbia College in Chicago, William, a student at ICC, and Douglas, at home in Dwight, Illinois. Deb’s parents will soon become Moss Avenue residents themselves, becoming neighbors of their daughter and son-in-law.

Both Tom and Deb are active in the community with a special interest in history.   Deb is currently President of the Peoria Historical Society, on the boards of Moss Bradley Residential Association and the Riverfront Museum, and a member of the Peoria Historical Preservation Commission.  Tom is Vice President of the Moss-Bradley Revolving Fund, on the board of Keep Peoria Beautiful, volunteers as a Rotary Club member in a reading program at Trewyn School, and is Commodore of the Wharf Harbor Boat Club.

For the past six years, the Boat Club has become a special part of the Dougherty’s lives. Their love of history prompted the name of their boat, “Whiskey River” in honor of Peoria’s part in the brewing and liquor industries.  Beamish (named after another industry product) joins them in his own life jacket as they set aside time to spend on the river with the many friends they’ve made through their boating hobby.

The Dougherty’s look forward to many busy and happy years in their Moss-Bradley home.  Of the seemingly endless stream of maintenance and preservation activities necessary in an older home, Tom says, “We’re comfortable in steadily setting priorities and working toward our goals.”



Featured Home of the Month: 437 High St. – Sumner R. Clarke Residence (Part 2)

high street.jpg

by Tim Hartneck

Big Game Hunter Weds Rich Widow

San Francisco Call  Nov 20, 1910


LONDON, Nov. 19 — Mrs. Sumner Clarke of Peoria, Ill. And Colonel J.J. Harrison, the explorer and discoverer of pygmies in Congo, were married at St. George’s in Hanover Square today. The bride was given away by William N. MacMlllan.

The above notice appeared in newspapers all across America.  The Chicago Tribune and the Wichita Daily Eagle even devoted an entire page to the event.

Last month I wrote about Sumner Clarke being widowed when his died in 1877.  In 1888, he married Mary Stetson, a native of Farmington, Ill., but then living in Iowa.  At the time of the marriage, Clarke was 41 and Mary was two weeks shy of her 22nd birthday.  During her marriage to Clarke, she was one of the leaders in the city’s social affairs.  Mary enjoyed traveling and as time went by, she spent considerable time in France and England, where she made many friends.

According to newspaper accounts, when Sumner Clarke died in 1907 he left Mary $1,000,000.  That is about $25,000,000 in today’s dollars.  Mary spent even more time traveling, touring Europe, India and Africa.  In 1909, while wintering at the ranch of her friends, the MacMillian’s, in Africa, she met Col. J. J. Harrison of Brandesburton Hall, York, a retired English army officer, explorer and big game hunter.  Harrison was also a guest at the ranch.  A relationship developed and they were engaged in September of 1910 and married on November 19, 1910.

Mary left Peoria and started a new life in the English countryside.  Following Co. Harrison’s death in the 1920’s, Mary returned to the United States in 1930, settling in Pasadena, California, where she died in 1932.

Was this a story of true love and romance, or of another American fortune subsidizing a depleted English bank account?  Who knows…


A ‘Perfect Storm’ of Volunteers

by Ed Tarbuck & Joanne Bannongreens

The beginning of 2015-16 holiday season brought an early snow storm as well as a “perfect storm” of neighbors and Pi Kappa Alpha brothers willing to brave the elements to hang nearly 200 garlands throughout our neighborhood! Unfortunately, the ‘un-hanging’ project also coincided with bad weather. It seems as though the Greens Team cannot be fazed by snow, ice, or rain! Please join me in thanking the following people who made another holiday season bright for all of us:

The prep-teams (critical to an efficient ‘hanging’ day):

  • Tom Dougherty ordered and helped cut rolls of greens;
  • Rod Lorenz cut wires for securing greens;
  • Bows were refreshed by Michelle Funk, Jan Krouse, Karin Lorenz,

Remy Winget, and Colleen Johnson;

  • Replacement bows made by Dan Callahan and crew at Gregg Florist;

The following people helped hang and/or remove garlands:

  • 8 enthusiastic members of the PKA Fraternity;
  • Newcomers this year: Eric Verplaetse, Bill Ackerman, Mark Mapstone, Terry Royer, Colleen and George Johnson;
  • ‘Ol Faithfuls: Rick Melby and Michelle Funk, Joe Merkle, Aaron Amstutz, Nathan Fredrick and his father Paul Fredrick, Jim Evenhuis, Tom and Deb Dougherty, John Timmerman, Nick Cowley, Wayne Johnson, Dove Benoit, Rod and Karin

Lorenz, Andrew Rand, Sid Ruckriegel, Matthew Kindred, Brian Buralli and Maureen Mathews, Bruce and Joseph Zilkowski;

  • Collection and removal of greens: Darcy Ray;
  • Coordination of the ‘unhanging’ crews: Matthew Kindred, with sons Brandon and Ryan!

Remember that a portion of the revenue from the annual Moss Avenue Sale is used to purchase and dispose of the holiday greens, so an additional thank you goes to the many neighbors who generously allow vendors to use their yards during the sale.

THANK YOU to all of those who participated with the GREENS TEAM this year!