PEORIA, Ill. — A 94-year-old Peoria building has an interesting past, but this story is about its future.
For years, the Scottish Rite Cathedral was the center of activity for the Masonic lodges around central Illinois. And as such, it’s probably the best-known building in Peoria that the fewest people have actually been inside.
While this building appears quite old, it was actually built in 1925. Inside, there’s a three-quarter round theater seating 900 and a banquet facility with a working kitchen. When it was built, there were some 15,000 members of the Masonic order locally.
Now that number is around 1,200. The Scottish Rite Cathedral had become unnecessary. It was quite the comedown for a building on the National Register of Historic Places.
Then, fortunately, along came developer Kim Blickenstaff.
Blickenstaff, a Spring Bay native who made millions in the biotech industry, bought the Scottish Rite Cathedral for $490,000 in April. Now he’s spending more money to modernize the building, including air conditioning, safety railings, paint, and polish.
The cathedral will be renamed the “Scottish Rite Theater.”
Whatever happens, it seems sure that more people than ever are going to see the inside of this historic Peoria building.