PEORIA, IL -- The Shaft, a historic Civil War monument, is on its way to restoration and establishment at the historic Springdale Cemetery. Dedication date is tentatively Memorial Day 2019.
A news conference on July 23 at the Peoria Riverfront Museum presented a history of the Shaft, and honored the community raising funds to restore it.
Gale Thetford, the treasurer for the fundraising effort, said that the Shaft stood at the Peoria Courthouse until it was demolished to make way for a modern courthouse.
Then the Shaft was taken to the Detweiller Marina grounds and discarded there in pieces. It was discovered recently, and the project to restore it began. When $60,000 is raised, it will be sent to the original company that created it, which is still in business, then back to Peoria for dedication at Springdale.
Restaurant owner and civic activist Bruce Brown said that a community of people raised money for the monument in 1866, and a community now is raising money for its restoration.
Gale Thetford and Bruce Brown at The Shaft news conference. A piece of the monument is on the right.
t may be one of the first Civil War monuments in the nation, and certainly was the first in Illinois. Peoria had a population of 19,000 when it was erected in 1866, but 30,000 people came to the dedication, Thetford said.
An eagle topped the Shaft, said to be 'Old Abe,' an eagle that flew screaming across battlefields. It also will be restored to top the monument.
Bruce Brown, right, Norm Kelly and Civil War re-enacters at a recent Shaft fundraiser at Brown's restaurant.Brown and Kelly found the pieces of the monument and launched the fundraising effort.
Representatives of several groups spoke briefly and presented checks toward the restoration. About half of the needed funds have been raised so far. Donations can be made at the website Restoretheshaft.org.
-- Elaine Hopkins