PHS Acquires Peoria Regional Museum Society

PEORIA – Since 1934 the Peoria Historical Society has been preserving, sharing, and celebrating the history of the Peoria area. As part of the celebration of its 80th year, the Society is taking a momentous step by acquiring the assets of the Peoria Regional Museum Society (PRMS). 

According to John Parks, President of the Regional Museum, after 61 years of operation the PRMS dissolved their organization due to declining membership and the advanced age of the remaining members. The PRMS was formed in 1952 as a collaborative effort, that included the Peoria Historical Society, to assure that artifacts, in particular large items, were collected and preserved. 

Among the artifacts are a Milwaukee Road Combination Rail-car which is presently displayed behind the “Old 886” Steam Locomotive and Tender Car at Wheels O’ Time Museum; a 1917 Duryea GEM automobile; an 1855 fire pumper; a 1939 Chevy fire truck; three early Cat track-type tractors; two Cat engines; a cutter sleigh and a seeder from the Peoria Drill & Seeder Co. manufactured about 1900. All of the 23 artifacts are on display at the Wheels O’ Time Museum north of Peoria near Lake of the Woods on Knoxville. 

While a relatively small entity, the PRMS has had a very significant legacy. Perhaps most recognizable were the efforts of this organization over the years in leading the “Bring Home the Duryea” campaign as well as the rescue of the “Old 886” Steam Locomotive and Tender. The PRMS was also one of the seven collaborating partners in the development of the Peoria Riverfront Museum. 

The PRMS acquisition also includes an endowed Charles E. and J. Frank Duryea Engineering Scholarship Fund administered by the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. This fund was established with remaining monies from the “Bring Home the Duryea” campaign, and is used to award scholarships through the Illinois Central College Foundation to students majoring in engineering at ICC