PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — 136 years in the making, one local club has been working to restore its former beauty.
The second oldest women’s club in the nation stands in Peoria, and the women behind it, have been restoring the building they call a second home.
“To drive by and just see how different the tuckpointing the windows, the copper on the roof, I’m very proud and proud of the work that we have done,” said Vicki Hordeski, the chair of the restoration committee for the women’s club.
The non-profit focuses on bringing women together to study art, literature, music, and culture. The women have been launching programs for the community and investing in projects to better the lives of women and children, establishing funds for their causes, and setting the foundation for our growing membership, since 1886.
Over the summer, crews began working on the exterior of the women’s club, redoing the roof, replacing valleys from the original building, restoring windows, and repairing dormers.
They also plan on remodeling the restrooms and creating cosmetic changes to the interior of the building.
“To bring life into this club is just a wonderful, warm feeling. We are a membership that’s growing. We’re at about 123 members now, multigenerational from the age of 25 to the age of 90s. And just to breathe life into the club by hosting events and having the community in here and enjoying this wonderful 1893 building, we’re super excited,” said President of the Women’s Club Kim Mitchell.
But with change comes a price.
“We are fundraising to continue on after that with a kitchen remodel, our electrical needs upgraded,” said Hordeski. “We need to get HVAC to the second floor so that eventually we can get the theater upstairs back to its original stage and up and running.”
The club is even having local artists join in on the fun.
“We have some very skilled artists that do specialized work here in Peoria. To be able to use those and not have to go to Chicago or Saint Louis or New York and pay the additional amount it would cost to bring those people in and have them do the work for us, we are just so fortunate to have that available locally,” said Hordeski.
On Dec. 4 at 2 p.m., the club is hosting a jazz holiday dinner, set in the 1920’s.
“The menu for the jazz dinner was chosen not today, but back in the early twenties, as the Peoria Women Club members created a recipe book with not only recipes but five-course menus,” said Mitchell.
With fundraising and restoration at the forefront, their goal is to bring more people into the club’s building, where it once stood with 400 people attending events.
“That is our dream to get back to those types of numbers and really share what we have to offer as far as educational and arts programs,” said Mitchell.
For those who would like to donate, click here.
For those who would like to purchase a ticket to attend the jazz dinner, click here. It’s important to act fast, as there are only 30 seats left, at $125 per ticket.