PEORIA, Ill. — “There’s no person that’s more responsible for bringing Caterpillar to Peoria than Murray Baker,” said Lee Fosburgh, Supervisor of Heritage Services and Archives for Caterpillar.
In 1909, Holt Manufacturing in Stockton, California was looking to expand its tractors to the Midwest, and a man named Murray Baker sweet-talked his way to moving the company to Peoria.
“He had a lot of foresight. He was kind of a sales guy but he was a strategic thinker,” said Fosburgh.
A worldwide success, rooted right in central Illinois.
“He was an everyday guy and really fit in and was a big supporter of the city of Peoria,” said Fosburgh.
Baker lived in Peoria too, and it’s believed that much of his planning took place at his home on Moss Avenue in Peoria’s West Bluff neighborhood. The home is currently up for sale for $679,000.
“It was a great place to grow up,” said Bernadette O’Brien, daughter of Eleanor Heines Dries.
The Dries family took over the home in 1967, a few years after Baker passed. Seven beds and five baths filled with energy among the five siblings. But the rich history and significance never dwindled.
“The success caterpillar has had and knowing that everything actually started here in this home,” said O’Brien. “We are hoping that the next person who buys this home has as much fondness for it as we do.”
They say there’s some magic in the walls, and maybe the next owner can leave a legacy as big as Murray Baker’s.
“He was able to see his vision across a 50-year time period and that’s kind of incredible,” said Fosburgh.
If you’re interested in checking out the home, you can head here.