New Veterans Memorial Planned for Peoria County Courthouse Plaza


Photo By Wes Schmidgall.


PEORIA — Peoria County officials are developing another veterans memorial for the Peoria County Courthouse Plaza.

The new veterans memorial will be facing Adams Street on a small patch of grass in the plaza, in between the World War I and II Memorial and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument that honors those who served in the Civil War.

Peoria County natives and residents who served in the Korean War, Vietnam War, Middle Eastern conflicts, as well as other wars and conflicts that occurred after World War II, will be honored on the new memorial.

In the summer of 2012, the Peoria County Board appointed a Courthouse Grounds Ad-Hoc Committee for the development of the new memorial.

“The County Board has committed $100,000 towards the project as a pledge,” said Peoria County Clerk Steve Sonnemaker, chairman of the Courthouse Grounds Ad-Hoc Committee. “The county has also provided some funding so we could hire an architect to assist us in some design concepts, and this is what the committee is starting to work on now.”

Pekin architect Jim Ash was hired by the county to create conceptual drawings of the memorial. Ash created the design for the World War I and II Memorial that is located in the courthouse plaza. 

“He’s familiar with the grounds,” said Sonnemaker.

The committee has developed several ideas for the design of the new memorial. One idea is for a stature to represent each era — Korea, Vietnam and the global war on terror. Another idea was to have a single statue that represents all the conflicts and small monoliths along a path that could have names or scenes engraved.

“We talked about a number of possible designs,” said Sonnemaker. “We talked about having a walkway and talked about having some kind of monument to mark, for example, Korea, Vietnam and maybe give some information about the conflicts and enlist those from Peoria County who lost their lives during those wars or conflicts, and then going on to Iraq and Afghanistan and so forth. A single monument was discussed. Sculptures were discussed of soldiers. There’s a number of thoughts from the committee that were put out there and Mr. Ash will try to come up with three or four rough ideas.”

Ash said he would create sketches for the committee to review next month. The county board will make the final decision on the design of the new memorial.

The committee will start soliciting funds for the new memorial, once the final design is approved.

“We didn’t really want to start a public appeal until we had a design,” said Sonnemaker. “Most people don’t want to give to something until they know what it’s going to look like or at least have a concept for what it’s going to look like.”

Committee members want to have engraved bricks that donors could buy to help finance the construction of the new memorial. Peoria County is currently selling engraved bricks to finance the maintenance of the World War I and II Memorial that was completed in 2007.

Construction of the new memorial is expected to cost less than $500,000.