The Nation’s Finest City Hall

Last month, a nationwide contest earned Peoria City Hall the title of “Best City Hall” in the United States. Our own “Grand Old Lady” triumphed over 200 city halls from across the country in a bracket-style competition to win the #ELGLCityHall National Championship—defeating Vancouver, Washington in the title bout with 59 percent of the vote.

The staying power of City Hall is a testament to the forethought and craftsmanship that went into it. Designed by architects Reeves and Baillie with the great civic structures of Europe in mind, the elaborately embellished building was constructed in the Flemish Renaissance style over a span of 15 months—from 1897 to 1899—at a cost of just over $200,000. At the time, it was the biggest project in the city’s history.

“They wanted to make the finest small city hall in the nation,” explains Dr. Peter Couri, a local historian. “They meant it to be the quintessential Peoria building.” The structure was designed so that any one of its four sides could serve as the front. At the peak of its roof stands the Victorian bell tower from the original City Hall. The exterior’s renowned—and extremely rare—red sandstone was quarried by workhouse inmates near Lake Superior in 1890.

The sponsor of the contest, Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL), represents “innovative local government leaders with a passion for connecting, communicating and educating.” In addition to an organizational membership, the City of Peoria will receive the prestigious Leslie B. Knope Trophy (of TV’s Parks & Recreation fame)—plus extreme bragging rights for this national recognition. iBi

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