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Preserving Peoria homes, one photo at a time

Bryan Smith
Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design the Francis W. Little House at 1503 W. Moss Ave. in 1903. Or as Bryan Smith dubs it, the "Little House on the Prairie."

One man is preserving Peoria through photographs.

Bryan Smith runs the Houses of Peoria & More group on Facebook. He's been taking photos of homes around the city for several years.

"I just wanted to take pictures of it and preserve it through pictures and share it through a social network, and, you know, just to kind of, I guess, preserve that community spirit or something," Smith said.

Bryan Smith

Smith often finds the houses he documents simply by driving around. If there's someone outside when he stops by, he'll ask questions about its history.

He'll also give it a unique name, like the "House of a Hundred Rooms," or "Cappuccino Castle." That's borne from Smith's habit of naming homes on his newspaper delivery route when he was younger.

"I guess that habit kind of stuck. So I could identify it with a name. And it also gives the house an identity in itself, rather than just being a picture of a house," he said.

Peoria is home to everything from a palatial 19th century Whiskey Baron mansion on High Street to a Frank Lloyd Wright house on Moss Avenue, but Smith also finds beauty in the Craftsmans and humbler homes which dot the city streets.

"There are very distinct houses, and they stand out, whether it be just the architecture or the landscaping, or, you know, just the color itself. Every house is interesting within itself," he said.

The House of Peoria & More page currently has more than 6,600 followers.

"I had no idea that it was going to pick up as much as it did. However, I learned that, yeah, it is something that a lot of people appreciate," Smith said.

He said ultimately, he hopes the page gives people a new sense of community pride, and inspires them to take care of the city in which they live.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.