Last updateFri, 18 Jan 2019 9am

Back You are here: Home History History News Local History Molly Crusen Bishop: The GAR Hall is a downtown historical gem

Molly Crusen Bishop: The GAR Hall is a downtown historical gem

Log in to save this page.

The Greenhut Memorial GAR Hall is located at 416 Hamilton Boulevard in Peoria. I attended Spalding High School in downtown Peoria in the late 1980s and spent my days walking to and fro across the two large buildings and center space.

Rain or shine or snow, I remember walking in my lovely plaid uniform, always rolled, and even sometimes stapled at the bottom, should the hem come out. It seems we walked back and forth all day long, and up and down so many flights of stairs. Stairs in the Academy, stairs in the Spalding side. We would run our miles during the nicer weather for gym class. We would run around the Scottish Rites Cathedral, beautiful old mansions, and back to school again. I was surrounded by both family history, and rich, deep local history.

Located directly across the street was the Cornerstone building, and then there was Saint Mary’s Cathedral a block’s walk down the other way. There was a historical building at the back of the cathedral called St. Mary’s Parish Hall, just bulldozed in January. 

I took the city bus home daily and would often miss one and have to wait a little bit for the next. I would walk around all of the old buildings around downtown. My mom, Joani Crusen, worked at the Courthouse so that was definitely on my walking path, as well.

I remember the fountain in Fulton Plaza and the strange drugstore that felt like it came straight out of a 1957 time warp and it didn’t quite realize that it didn’t really belong anymore. I remember sympathizing with the poor little drugstore. I even went inside a few times. It wasn’t wanted or needed anymore, but nobody had the heart to break the news to it.

The scent from the Illinois River was fresh daily, with the occasional shift of wind from some of the industrial plants located further up the way.

I also distinctly remember the building with the cannons in front with the beautiful stained-glass windows. Now fast forward a few decades and I have a brand new experience with the cannon building.

Someone finally got around to telling the drugstore the dreaded news and it, as well as the Fulton fountain, was replaced. Memories of the walks around the drugstore faded, and the memories of the Fulton Plaza became faded stories I would occasionally share with my children over the years.

I have always enjoyed history, but as I have grown older, I realize the strength and meaning behind it mean a lot more. Sometimes, though, if the bones are good and solid and strong, there are many ways to repurpose some of the old into something new to us again.  Reducing, reusing, and recycling are one of the best lessons from the past we could all use a little more of, in my opinion.

I am very happy indeed that a kind and very smart man named Les Kenyon, a local architect, was of that particular mindset, for he saved the building with the cannons from being turned into a parking lot in the 1970s. The Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation was formed to secure the saving of the hall, and it became an organization that helps save and recognize and mark other historic buildings in the region. It is a non-profit organization “dedicated to preserving historic and cultural landmarks that give Central Illinois its unique character.”  Now that I am an adult, I have that mindset as well. What is made strong and solid and unique, should be kept strong and solid and unique, and incorporated into modern uses today whenever possible.

The building with the cannons in front with the stained glass windows has a whole new life to me. The Greenhut Memorial Grand Army of the Republic Hall is the proper title for the building I knew as a teen roaming around Spalding waiting for the bus as the cannon building with the stained glass windows.  Here is my introduction to the Peoria’s grand historic hall at 416 Hamilton Boulevard.

I approached the building not knowing what to expect inside. I walked in the green double-doors and saw a beautiful wooden staircase. I peered back over my shoulder and looked up into the beautiful rays of light and color overhead. The stained glass at the top of the entryway is nothing short of breathtaking. I had noticed the words Greenhut Memorial at the top of the outside of the building, but I held onto my inquiry for a while as I was shown some amazing things of both local and national historic importance throughout the building. 

The top of the staircase holds a sculpture done by the famed Frederick Triebel, who also did the Soldiers and Sailors Monument outside of the Peoria County Courthouse. I looked up to the wall on my left and saw a portrait of a nice looking man with the most spectacular mustache I had ever seen. Over to my right and up the wall I saw his equally lovely wife. Joseph Benedict Greenhut and Clara Wolfner Greenhut, benefactors of the Greenhut Memorial GAR Hall, dedicated their time and money in Peoria, Illinois, in 1909, to a building dedicated to the veterans of the Civil War. He served in the 12th Illinois infantry, and later the 82nd Illinois infantry.

Colonel Joseph Greenhut fought in many famous battles, including the Battles of Gettysburg and Chattanooga, and he served with honor and distinction. He was born in Austria and came to America with his parents when he was a boy. He and Clara lived in Peoria, and built one of the largest and finest homes in all of Peoria. Their home will be featured in this series on the Greenhut Memorial GAR Hall.  Joseph formed the Great Western Distillery and became one of the most successful and wealthiest men in the United States.

I am fortunate now to get to share in my passion for history, especially the Civil War, and for Peoria by being the new rental manager for this beautiful hall in downtown Peoria. I am happy every time I walk into the building and I get to take others on tours and share the rich history I only recently learned about the hall.

We are available for weddings, receptions, banquets, luncheons, lectures, music, art, and anytime there is a need for our venue. It is handicapped accessible and has many updated features that work well, blending the beautiful wood and stained glass of old. 

We participate with the C.I.A.O. and host the spectacular First Fridays held throughout Peoria on the first Friday of every month, celebrating Peoria’s local artists and musicians. This Friday, April 1, we are open 5 to 9 p.m. and will host artists, authors and photographers. Entertainment will include acoustic musicians Chase Sieting of Through The I, Shannon Moore Shepherd and Sophia Lair.

Please email me at or call 857-6844 to set up your tour to discover part of our city’s history. Once we know and love our history, it is difficult not to be its steward.

There are many historical and special buildings still left downtown that need new life. Let’s keep their unique qualities and build from their strength from the past, and revitalize them into something even better!  

About the Author
Molly is a life-long Peorian and an author, speaker, and storyteller. She is married to Doug Bishop and has five children and one grandchild. Molly loves history and Peoria and loves to share her passions with anyone she can get to listen to her. She loves to research, interview, and write or speak about history. The youngest and ninth child of Don and Joani Crusen, she grew up on the West Bluff in the house her great grandparents built in the 1880s. She writes a historical column in Woman’s View magazine, and will be writing a column called The Peorian Perspective in The Peorian.

  • I can recommend primarily decent and even responsible tips, as a result view it: Imbianchini a san colombano

  • Going to graduate school was a positive decision for me. I enjoyed the coursework, the presentations, the fellow students, and the professors. And since my company reimbursed 100% of the tuition, the only cost that I had to pay on my own was for books and supplies. Otherwise, I received a free master’s degree. All that I had to invest was my time. virtual number

  • The initial Mahjongg connect free online is come from China around 2,000 years back and chroniclers recommend that the game came from someplace near Shanghai region. If you obtain stuck, clicking the Tip button will connect 2 ceramic tiles immediately for you.

  • three models of uk replica watches basic sales, followed by the rolex replica watches timing section. Case diameter 42 mm, the thickness of replica watches uk 14 mm, for most men be a large size, and further enjoy the taste of a lot of people should be fake watches very flexible design. Another good news

  • How a particular design plays to the market at large and to our readers is always the first thing on my mind when I see replica handbags; my personal opinion whether or not I’d carry it in my leisure time is way down the list of my concerns. That, I think, is why it’s taken me so many years to acknowledge my intense love for the Céline Classic Box Bag. The Classic Box Bag was introduced in 2010, so I’ve had ample time to examine my feelings on it but somehow just haven’t. I’ve always known I thought it was beautiful–I’ve never seen a version of it that made me feel skeptical–but until recently, it wasn’t louis vuitton replica bag I pictured in my own wardrobe. Maybe I’m just a little older now, or my personal taste has evolved just enough to appreciate something so traditionally beautiful not just as an idea, but as a thing I could have and use myself. If you’ve never examined one of these bags up close, but I’d certainly recommend it. Not only is the exterior a perfect illustration of Céline’s replica handbags uk particular sort of chic restraint, but the materials the bag is made with are absolutely gorgeous, both inside and outside. The interior is separated in a way that’s always reminded me of the world’s most luxurious accordion folder, but with butter-soft lambskin instead of thin cardboard dividers. The neat interior organization seems fit for a person who has a precise number of small, chic things to put in her bag every day. I, on the other hand, have always been a bit more unruly in my accessories habits, but there’s nothing to say I can’t evolve. Maybe I can be orderly. Maybe I can be a version of myself that carries this mulberry replica bag. Isn’t that, after all, what we’re all hoping when we get dressed?

  • After Prada Inside handbags on affectation for the aboriginal time in Prada 2015 autumn and winter women's appearance and anon became iconic design, cleverly hidden in a replica handbags, this different anatomy aloft a lot of emotion. It is funny, sexy, elegant, and abounding of subversive, affluent attitude and the absolute alloy of adventurous ideas. . It is antic and yet sexy, absolute acceptable elements with adventurous account together. Blush with a archetypal blush and avant-garde color, so that the buyer can bag with a affection of outsourcing and the fendi replica handbags colors, sometimes aswell uses arresting blush hit. All this all depends on the wearer's affection as able-bodied as for their all-embracing adapted concept. Prada Inside accoutrements application a array of comfortable covering crafted aggregate include: alligator, ostrich and calf; adjustable "inner structure" is acclimated nappa covering elaborate. Prada handbags by the accomplished abilities of the craftsmen anxiously crafted. The alien replica handbags uk through the circuitous architecture and the close bag is affiliated to the top of this circuitous architecture and acceptable crafts Prada able innovations amoebic together. The folds of the close bag and alien bag via two connected, do not use any centralized structure, thereby allowance to actualize a soft, admirable handbags. Each backpack alone by artisans absorb hours hand-made.more

Please login to comment