The Peoria skyline is striking, especially from across the river and at night. But that postcard perspective can be deceiving – the city’s tallest structures are apparent, but the next-highest buildings might be a surprise.
Here’s a list of the River City’s loftiest buildings, as measured by the website emporis.com — an emphatically self-described “provider of international skyscraper and high-rise building data!” — and curated by the Journal Star.
Twin Towers I and II: 308 feet
Rising 29 stories at 123 and 125 SW Jefferson Ave., Twin Towers I and II were completed in May 1984. The complementary condominium complex was built by Peoria developer G. Raymond Becker. Together, the structures compose Twin Towers Place. They were constructed in the modernist architectural style.
The Twin Towers project was contentious, with contemporary Journal Star stories calling it “the battle of Fulton Street.” Developer Becker wanted to purchase “saloon-keeper” Matthew J. Ryan’s fire-damaged, boarded-up building at 418 Fulton St., among others, so he could build the towers. The two could not agree on a price. Eventually, the city declared the Fulton Street property a nuisance. Ryan disagreed. “It’s a gold mine,” he retorted.
416 Main: 256 feet
The rechristened Commerce Bank Building stands 17 stories above 416 Main St. If including its iconic lantern, it reaches 302 feet. Construction was completed in 1920. It is one of few remaining terra cotta buildings in the area. It was constructed in the architectural style of neoclassicism.
416 Main is one of downtown’s more elaborate buildings, boasting cornices, decorative railings, spires and even a pair of 6-foot-tall eagles on its tower. Built by Peoria Life Insurance Co., its owners aspired to construct the finest building in Illinois. It was the tallest structure in Peoria until the Twin Towers were built.
The structure stands on the former site of the fabled Rouse’s Opera Hall, where politicians Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, author Mark Twain and noted entertainers appeared.
Riverview Plaza: 243 feet
Now prominently bedecked in Chase Bank signage, the 20-story building at 411 Hamilton Blvd. was completed in 1967. It was constructed as the Savings Building and is an example of brutalist architecture.
At various times, it was known as First Federal Savings Tower, Savings Center Tower, First Financial Plaza, Associated Bank Plaza and Chase Bank Plaza.
Upon its opening, the Savings Building boasted a restaurant on the 20th floor, “a swank spot where Caterpillar Inc. wined and dined business customers.” Before the coronavirus pandemic, the owner envisioned a return of penthouse dining in the form of a rotating restaurant.
Becker Building: 211 feet
The striking blue-and-white structure stands 16 stories tall at 401 Main St. It was completed in 1993 and designed in the postmodernism architectural style. It was named in honor of the parents of G. Raymond Becker, the man who also developed the adjacent Twin Towers.
Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette: 187 feet
The venerable hotel rises 14 floors above 501 Main St. Designed in the architectural style of neoclassicism, it was completed in 1927. In 1982, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Wikipedia calls it “Peoria’s only surviving example of an upscale 1920s hotel.”
According to emporis.com, famous guests have included U.S. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Ford and Reagan, and during the 1970s, the hotel basement contained a nightclub called The Playground, with presumably adult-sized “sandboxes and an entrance via a slide.”
The hotel has a long, sometimes convoluted history of renovations and rebrandings.
Glen Oak Towers: 168 feet
The residential high-rise stands 15 stories at 926 Main St. The modernist brick building was completed in 1953. A $15 million rehabilitation of the downtown facility catering to seniors and veterans was completed in 2016.
At its ribbon-cutting opening ceremony Aug. 2, 1953, a standalone photo in the Journal Star said Glen Oak Towers was “the largest room-renting structure in Illinois outside Cook County.” Newspaper for-rent advertisements described it as “Peoria’s most distinctive address.” Another ad touted the Tower Lounge, “Peoria’s newest modern cocktail lounge.”
This article originally appeared on Journal Star: These are the tallest buildings in Peoria, Illinois