Local realtor offers to buy four-story red mansion in Peoria built in 1893

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A landmark in Peoria for more than a century is now on the teardown list.

The home is one of the first things you see when you get on Knoxville Avenue right off Interstate 74.

The red four-story mansion has served many roles. One of them being a home for families whose loved ones were in the hospital. But in just two months, over 120 years of history could be just a memory.

After a fire in July of 2019, this Victorian-styled mansion located at 1509 N. Knoxville Avenue is set to be demolished.

Contractor Richard Weiss says fixing the house isn’t a feasible task for the owner.

“The problem was, the fire caused structural damage to the beam that supports the whole house,” Weiss said.

Weiss says demolition is set for early April unless someone steps in to become the next owner.

“If someone wants to buy it, it is an option. It’s just they would be taking on about a $600,000 headache, plus they’d have to pay us for the lot,” Weiss said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Weiss says a local realtor has put out an offer to buy the home. That could keep the building standing, and the history moving forward.

Molly Crusen Bishop wants to see the house stand. She hopes community members can come together to keep it alive.

“If enough people put their minds and money together, it could be renovated,” Crusen Bishop said.

Crush Bishop says the next steps for her and her colleagues are to take their concerns to the city council to pass ordinances protecting historic buildings.

“Even if it has a fire, it still has structural integrity. It might need a lot of work, but it can be mothballed while a group of buyers or investors, or the city decides to do something with it. That could be a bed and breakfast, that could be a restaurant, that could be a doctor’s office,” Crusen Bishop said.

Crusen Bishop says multiple cities such as Louisville, Kentucky, Commerce City, Colorado, parts of St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago “mothball” homes.

“Historic preservation is more than bricks and mortar – it is about cultural heritage, sustainability, economic development, heritage tourism, and more. Commerce City is working toward creating a program to help preserve places and landmarks with historic value to help tell the story of the community’s heritage,” says the Commerce City government website.

“Mothballing is the deactivation and preservation of equipment or a production facility for possible future use or sale. It can also mean the setting aside an object or idea indefinitely for possible reuse or revisiting in the future,” according to Will Kenton of Investopedia.

Weiss says if the house is demolished, some architectural pieces on the inside will be preserved.

“There are some beautiful fireplaces in there, stuff like that in there. A lot of wood features that did not get hurt,” Weiss said.

The home was built in 1893 by Peter E. Spurck according to Christopher Farris of the Peoria Public Library.

Spurck and his family moved to Peoria in 1846 from Zanesville, Ohio. Spurck passed away in 1897, just four years after building the Knoxville Ave. mansion.

A Journal Star article from 1994 which is held at the downtown branch of the Peoria Public Library stated on May 31, 1985, is when the Family House started.

“It’s the last in a long line of houses along Knoxville that is going, of its era. There were many houses up and down Knoxville, especially when the interstate went through, it took out several. And then other businesses replacing them,” Farris said.

Weiss says the owner, who is working with CCS Farms to schedule the demolition, put in a request with the City of Peoria. After putting in a request, the company has to wait 30 days, the end of that period is March 7.

Weiss says after March 7 his crews will tentatively be going into the home and seeing what all can be salvaged. This is all leaning on if a buyer comes along or not.

Currently, it is unknown who the buyer is.

We’ll continue to follow these developments and keep you updated on-air and online.

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