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Peoria's Labor Temple is up for sale

The Peoria Labor Temple, 400 NE Jefferson, is up for sale. The organization is asking $799,000 for the five-story brick building, erected in 1925.
The Peoria Labor Temple, 400 NE Jefferson, is up for sale. The organization is asking $799,000 for the five-story brick building, erected in 1925.

The building serving as the headquarters of Central Illinois organized labor for nearly a century is now up for sale.

The Peoria Labor Temple, 400 NE Jefferson, is listed with Jim Maloof Realtor for $799,000. Union members began raising funds for the building in 1918 at a time when many organized labor meetings convened secretly in back rooms. Construction commenced in 1925.

"We were hoping we were hoping to make it to our 100th anniversary, but I just don't think we can do it. So, you know, we're seeing if there's any interest out there to purchase it," said Sharon Williams, president of the Peoria Labor Temple Association.

Williams said it's become harder to maintain the aging five-story brick building over the past few decades as many union locals have moved out of the temple and into their own buildings. Nearly two floors of the building are currently unoccupied.

Realtor Jared O'Brien said the heating and security systems are still relatively new. He said the building's roof probably has five to ten years before it will need replacement.

"It needs a lot of work. It's a great location, it's a great building. But the time has come for us to put it on the market and see if we can sell it," Williams said.

Williams said about 17 tenants remain in the building, mostly smaller local unions without the resources to purchase their own headquarters. Those renters are interested in continuing their leases if the labor temple is sold.

If the buyer doesn't want to continue those leases, Williams said they're all hoping to leave together and move into a new building, though a new property hasn't been chosen yet. O'Brien said the current tenants generate just under $13,000 a month.

She said a couple potential buyers are currently inquiring into the Labor Temple, but she can't yet offer any specifics. But she said it was a sad day when she signed the papers to put the building on the market.

"This building has always been a place where when politicians come to town, they come to the Labor Temple," Williams said. "I mean, I remember when Barack Obama was here when he was running for Illinois Senate. You know, Dick Durbin's been here. The Illinois AFL-CIO is here all the time."

The Labor Temple houses a lot of organized labor's history in Peoria. She hopes the Illinois Labor History Society or the Peoria Riverfront Museum will be interested in taking on the Labor Temple's collections of flags and memorabilia.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.