The City of Peoria looks much different than it did 100, 50, or even 10 years ago. If you want to know what Peoria used to look like, you can visit “The Street” at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, or there’s a Facebook site called “Memories of Old Peoria.” Or you can visit Bob Page’s basement.
Bob has recreated parts of Peoria from scratch, building after building built to model railroad scale. In Bob’s world, the old Rock Island Depot still has a clock tower, the Jefferson Hotel still stands, resurrected in HO scale.
“I’ve always been a model railroader,” says Page. “It all started when they announced they were going to build the Civic Center and they were going to tear down a lot of buildings, and I decided I might go down and get some pictures and things, and I thought, ‘I think this is a good opportunity to build some Peoria buildings.'”
Some of the buildings are make believe, others are very real. One of Bob’s clients wanted him to build a model brewery. To get the color of the bricks correct, he sent a color photo. Building something that complicated from scratch can take months.
Bob’s worktable is very small, but then it has to be. Nearly every space is occupied by model buildings, model train tracks, or the materials to create them. And despite the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any available space left, Bob has still got some buildings in mind to reproduce.
“There’s the Luthy Locher building on Washington Street, behind the Carson Pirie Scott building. It has arched windows on it.”
Parts of old Peoria may have vanished, but they remain, in memory or photos, or in Bob Page’s basement.
Model maker Bob Page can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.