**October 3, 2008**
The September 27th Fundraiser was a huge success in regards to the number of people attending, we had hoped for around a thousand people to attend. Somewhere between 4,500 and 5,000 people came by to see this historic structure. We sold out of T-Shirts in the first 15 minutes of the fundraiser. We thank you very much for your support in our efforts to save this wonderful building and the history of the Peoria State Hospital.
We have big plans for another event around Halloween, barring any further problems from the City of Bartonville. I still am not quite sure what it is that they are trying to accomplish. All we want to do is save this structure and it seems they have nothing better to do than put up road blocks every which way we turn. Make sure you let the administration of Bartonville know that you want this structure saved.
Remember we have plenty of raffle tickets left for the Halloween drawing:
- 1st place is $1,000 cash
- 2nd place $500.00 cash
- 3rd place $200.00 cash
Tickets are $1 or 6 for $5.
**September 20th, 2008**
We have been working hard to get the building ready for the September 27th fund raiser. The following items have to be completed to meet city requirements:
1) Exit signs (done)
2) Floor plan with exit routes (done)
3) Second exit (in progress)
4) Handicap entrance (in progress)
All will be completed prior to the event on Saturday the 27th. Please come join us for a day of the history of the Peoria State Hospital:
We are expecting 20-30 previous employees from the hospital along with nursing students and maybe even a descendant of Doctor Zeller himself.
There will be BBQ sandwiches, chips and soda for the first 400 visitors that donate $5. We will provide the guest (employees with name tags) with lunch for free.
We will have T-Shirts and Ball caps available to the first 40 people that donate $15.
Raffle tickets with a $1,000 cash prize for first prize will be available for purchase of $1 per ticket or you can get 6 tickets for $5. Drawing to be held on October 31, 2008, need not be present to win.
We have five special guest that will have books available for purchase and will gladly autograph for donations to the Save The Bowen fund.
Don’t forget we have several local artist that have reserved booth space and will have their products ready for viewing. Spaces are still available, just give Anne a call at 630-847-4495.
We will also be giving away door prizes for individuals that register on the steps of the Bowen building and receive a free ticket. We will be giving these away throughout the day. Two or three an hour, depending on the response. Items to be given away include:
Bartonville Hardware= “Stone Angel”
Alpha Park Library= “Bittersweet Memories” (book)
Marilyn’s Bow-K-Silk= Floral Centerpiece
The Party Shoppe= $25 off a $50 or more order
Caleb Downing, Stylist= Complimentary Haircut and Style and 50% off chemical service
Curves= (2) 2 month gift certificates
Mobile Auto Specialist= One complimentary on-site oil change (up to 5 quarts)
Mental Health Preservation Society= (2) “Asylum Light” (books)
Rob Conover= “Haunted No More” (book)
Troy Taylor= Book of his choice
Save The Bowen & Mid-America Ghost
Time For You of Pekin= 1 Free haircut, (2) Twenty Dollar gift Certificates and $15 Dollars towards any Waxing
Hunters= (5) Free Ghost hunts at a date to be determined.
** September 6, 2008 Update**
Another workday is in the books. We had a lot of fun this weekend and we would like to thank our faithful crew of hard workers:
Erin Brandon Jillian Wallace
Brandan Wheeler Skilar Harrell
Jenni Stratton Jesse Test
Sara Downing Karen Cleeton
Andy Weiss (Sat/Sun) Trish Mathes (Sunday Crew)
Marsha Weiss (Sunday Crew) Andrew Mathes (Sunday Crew)
**Anne Prichard Our Volunteer of the Week
Our newest helper Jesse has been taking pictures of the institution for many years, he has frequented not only Peoria State Hospital but has also visited a few other Mental Hospitals in Illinois to photograph our history. Jesse even showed several of our workers where the old steps are located. A tour of the cemeteries was also completed by a few of our trusted group. A special thank you to Karen for the use of her mower, we had let the lawn get away from us over the last couple of weeks and it is now looking pretty good.
*August 30, 2008 Update**
A special THANKS goes out to our great volunteers for Saturday’s work day:
Erin Brandon Kathy Burke
Brandan Wheeler Jill Wallace
Jenni Stratton Karen Cleeton
Dan Parr Arlene Parr
Skilar Harrell Andy Weiss
**Sara Downing Our Volunteer of the week!!!**
I think we got more accomplished then any previous work day. The place is looking great from Pfeiffer Road. We also hung our Banner on the front of the building, guiding people to our web site.
We are working diligently getting things together for our September 27th fund raising event.
Items we are still working on include:
1) Electricity: We are looking to get power to the building and need local assistance from someone that knows the requirements and what we need to get the building available for temporary power. If you know someone please have them call Anne at Save The Bowen 630-847-4495.
2) We are also in need of a load of dirt for the property. We need to fill several small holes to prevent injury to our guest. We would like to get the grounds as level as possible before our fund raiser.
3) We are asking for three special sponsors for the raffle portion of our fund raiser. These entities would provide prizes ranging from $500.00 to $1,000.00 for the raffle in exchange for mentioning in all our advertisements including radio and newspaper articles. Please contact Anne at 630-847-4495 if interested. You will also be a major part of the fund raiser including flyers and raffle tickets.
4) We are also providing booth space for any interested artist and groups that would like to have items for display, sale or just for informational purposes. Just call Anne (630-847-4495) to reserve your assigned space. These booths are provided free of charge. You will be responsible for your own equipment we are only providing the 12 foot by 12 foot ground spaces.
Donations are greatly appreciated!!!
*August 18th Update**
A special THANKS go out to Dennis and Anne (OH) they spent the whole day burning brush and mowing, place looks great. I guess Dennis wins again for volunteer of the week, he had to beat out Anne, pretty tough. Anne, Sara, Sandi and others have been working tirelessly on our September 27th fundraiser.
Next work day will be the 30th of August. We have alot of people asking so lets get the word out to everyone.
Thanks Again Anne and Dennis you guys ROCK!
August 4, 2008:
Another successful work day is in the books. We had several good workers involved on our Saturday work effort. This week’s volunteer of the week is Dennis, after our work in the heat of the day Dennis mowed, and the property really looked great. Still lots to get done but I think everyone knows we are really putting forth a great effort.
We still need ideas from everyone regarding the fund raiser. Any ideas can be forwarded to Anne at the 630-847-4495 number, leave a message and she will get back to you as soon as possible. We probably scheduled this to soon but we will make the best of it. With the help we have, anything is possible. We have some very key people helping. The following people have been involved since we have taken over the property and are just some of the best people you will meet. They all have a fire within to help with this restoration project:
Anne Prichard, Dennis Shea, Sara Downing. These three are our all-stars for their efforts.
We appreciate everyone that has come by to help. This project can not be completed without your help. Past, present and future volunteers are essential to our effort.
To all of you who have helped, thank you. It could not have been done without you. All of your efforts, time and money will restore the Bowen Building to its splendor one day soon. It has been a long and a tough road and there is still a long way to go but with and only with your efforts we will reach our goals. Thank you to everyone past, present and future.
July 30, 2008: Fundraising Planning
We are in the process of planning a September 27th, 2008 Fundraising. We will post here what all we will have that day. We currently have three local authors lined up for book signings. Volunteers welcome as well as ideas. Please contact our local representative Anne “Ordinary Housewife” Prichard at: 630-847-4495, leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Please check back for updates. I will add them to this list weekly.
***July 25, 2008***
It appears that an article in the PJ Star has brought up alot of questions that people are asking, I will do my best to answer those questions:
I want to clear up a few inaccuracies in the PJ Star article:
1) I (Richard Weiss) am not in the business of purchasing and refurbishing buildings. I have worked and will continue to work for a Development and Management firm since 1992. This company is not involved in this venture.
2) The property is not being purchased for $250,000. This cost includes estimated cost to stabilize the building to prevent further damage from water and weather. Much more could be spent for this portion this includes emergency repairs only.
3) Mrs. Prichard is not a liaison for the purchase of the building. Mrs. Prichard is a volunteer for Save The Bowen, Inc.. Mrs. Prichard was chosen for her desire to save this structure and for her available time to devote to the project. This is not a paid position as the non-profit currently has no paid employees it is strictly volunteers. And just as a matter of fact Anne is definately not your ordinary housewife, if anything ordinary is the last thing I would call Anne!!! (ha, ha!)
4) The property is not being purchased to establish ghost hunting tours, this is merely an idea discussed to generate funds for the building to be stabilized. Most of the persons interested in saving the building happen to be very interested in the ghost and haunted aspect. Not all are interested but the majority, seem to be from this group. Tours will only become available when the property can be made safe for viewing. Not all tours will be ghost hunting, we will also have historic tours available if things workout in this regard.
5) Save The Bowen, Inc. has been established to purchase, renovate and maintain the Bowen building. The non-profit entity understands that it can not start the businesses that have been discussed in the possible ventures planned for the building. This will require a for profit entity partnership.
I have tried to get interested developers, but I was unable to get any interested parties due to the current condition of the property. The property must be stabilized and made somewhat attractive to generate the interest of a for profit developer. Any partnership will require a 51% ownership by Save The Bowen, Inc. to ensure the historical exterior of the building remains intact.
Here is how this whole project came about:
I was viewing properties on ebay when I pulled up the building in Bartonville. The building was listed for $400,000. The listing also mentioned the possibility of using the limestone blocks for another project if one wished to remove the structure.
I contacted the owners representative to see this impressive building. The minute I drove up Pfeiffer Road and the building came into view, I was immediately hooked. I fell for the building and wanted to do something to ensure that it would not be taken apart or destroyed.
I discussed my desire with my boss and tried to get him involved with the project. He was not interested due to both the current condition and the location of the property.
I decided to try to work with the current owner and assist them on possibly rehabbing the building. The current owner is very busy with the ownership of a construction company, however he agreed to work with me and let me take the time to establish a non-profit for the sole purpose of saving this building.
No, I do not have the funds to rehab this building myself, if I did I would not have established a non-profit. I would have purchased the building and tried one of the numerous ideas that I have discussed with both the current owner and his representative. The only way I could see of saving the building was to go the route of setting up a non-profit and trying to get funds for the purchase and stabilization of the property. Setting up a non-profit is not an easy task. It requires lots of time and several dollars to get a 501 (c) 3 established.
Yes, this is a big risk and I could lose my time and investment in the property. Yes this is a huge dream and an overwhelming task, but someone has to do it. It might as well be someone that has some development experience and is used to working with government programs.
We are not expecting the local people to come up with millions of dollars, this will be the job of the for profit partner that we hope to attract. If we do not get a for profit partner then the building will still be saved, it just will not have the extensive rehab that we wish to have done.
The building has no historic interior or grand entries that is why it could have about any venture that a would be developer would want.
The only thing we are trying to do is save the exterior and to make it look as close as we can to what it looked like years ago. We can not put back all the porches as the road is now closer to the building and the city has a setback requirement. This building has been a part of the community for over 100 years and we plan to keep it that way for the next hundred years.
Anything else that you want to know just come by and see me, I will be at the property on the 2nd of August working on cleaning up some of the brush. I will be available for any questions you may have at that time.
Another question asked was if Arlene Parr and Gary Lisman are part of the project. We have talked with Arlene numerous times and she is very aware of our efforts. If she has the time, we welcome both her and Gary to our efforts.
Gary did visit us and we told him what was going on during our cleanup project on the 19th of July. We agree that these two people know more about this property than just about anyone. We will be tapping there knowledge base for many things if possible.
***July 21, 2008 Update:
We had a very productive work day on Saturday the 19th. Our next work day is scheduled for August the 2nd at 9:00 am.
I would like to send out a special thank you to Sara and Trish, these girls worked the entire day and never made one complaint. A few more workers like these girls and we will have this place cleaned up in no time.
Please keep coming back and checking out this page for updates we will be scheduling fund raising projects very soon. We just want to get the place cleaned up a little prior to having people come by and see what is going on.
We sure did get things stirred up in the community on Saturday. People stopped by all day and asked what was going on with the building. Rumors are spreading like wild fire through Bartonville and beyond. Local Author and hospital historian Gary Lisman (“Bittersweet Memories” a history of the Peoria State Hospital) stopped by and said that his phone had been ringing off the hook with people asking what was happening at the Bowen building.
We also had a visit from local Investigator and new author Rob Conover. Mr. Conover has a very close connection with the Peoria State Hospital and the Bowen building.
Please check out his brand new book: “Haunted No More” The book is a recording of a few of Mr. Conover’s investigations. The story of “Hazel” and the Tazwell County Healthcare Facility sent chills down my spine. This story also reaches home to me because I do not want the Bowen building destroyed as was the old Tazwell Healthcare Facility.
***July 14, 2008 Update:
We have signed the sales contract and the building now belongs to Save The Bowen, Inc. We will assess the damages to the interior of the building and work on plans to get the income to pay for the building and repairs that are needed prior to letting people tour the building. We NEED your help!!! We will have a local representative listed very soon to contact regarding volunteering. Check back real soon as we are planning a work day this Saturday (7/19/2008) on the outside of the building and we will set-up a local contact.
***January 28, 2008 Update:
We have now received our official Letter from the IRS approving our application for tax exempt status and we are now considered Federal Tax Exempt from income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. We are now qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Code.
The “Save The Bowen” team consist of people that care about the history of this great nation. It is not always better to build newer bigger more functional buildings, sometimes it is better to restore and have something to show our children.
Our goal is to save a building that has become a landmark in the Bartonville area. The Bowen building is one of the original buildings forming the Peoria State Hospital (aka: Bartonville State Hospital)
Over time many of the buildings have been destroyed, either by time, vandals or developers building newer more functional buildings. We wish to save this “Jewel” of the original State Hospital buildings.
We wish to restore this great structure to its original beauty as shown above in the photos dating back to the early 1900’s.
When the building can be made safe for viewing by the public we will gladly allow visitors at appointed times, however, we need your help. We need public support for this project to come together. We also need funding to make the property safe for viewing. We are asking for your support with the city, state and federal programs that we hope to achieve funding from.