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City of Peoria taking ownership of former Hale Memorial Church site

This grassy lot at West Main and High Streets in Peoria's West Bluff is the former site of the Hale Memorial Church.
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This grassy lot at West Main and High streets in Peoria's West Bluff is the former site of Hale Memorial Church.

Kim Blickenstaff's KDB Group planned to create a park at the corner of West Main and High streets after demolishing the historic Hale Memorial Church. But when the developers announced they were pulling back on their Peoria-area projects, the parcel was put up for sale.

The prominent corner at the gateway to the West Bluff has sat vacant since last summer, when the church was demolished due to major structural issues.

Second District councilman Chuck Grayeb says the KDB Group is donating the former Hale church property to the City of Peoria.

"We have resources to make it a special, special park, if you will, a memorial park, for our entire city, not just the West Bluff, not just the High Wine Neighborhood Association, but for our entire city and for those who come to our city to tour many of our historic sites," he said.

The church was named in honor of Asahel Hale, an abolitionist and onetime Peoria County treasurer. His brother William Hale was Peoria's first mayor.

The original Hale Chapel was constructed in 1868. The cornerstone for the most recent church on the site was laid in 1900.

Grayeb said the plan is to pay homage to the demolished church.

"We are attempting to ensure we have some of the architectural elements from that building that we can incorporate, as was originally conceived, we can incorporate into the creation of that park," he said.

Grayeb said the city will maintain the park, adding his constituents in the West Bluff are happy to see the property off the market, and eager to offer their input for the future of the land.

"I can't wait for this to get done," said Grayeb.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.