historic Edelstein ballroom
Fire destroyed the historic Hub Ballroom early Wednesday
The entire building, located on Main Street just
off Illinois Route 40 in the village north of Peoria,
was burned to the ground.
Akron-Princeville firefighters received the fire
call about 2:55 a.m.
"When we got here, probably one-third of the
building was engulfed," Chief Jeff Troutman said
Wednesday morning. "With all that wood in there,
it went fast. We always knew if we had a fire there,
it wouldn't be a matter of saving the building, it
would be a matter of containing the fire."
The Hub, built in 1938 by Bert Potter of Potter Implement
Co., originally was intended as a display for farm
implements. Those plans changed after an opening-day
dance to show off the building drew a packed house,
and Potter decided instead to pursue a dance hall.
Since then, The Hub has hosted performers including
Lawrence Welk, Glenn Miller, Jerry Lee Lewis, Guy
Lombardo, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman in front
of crowds of 1,500 to 2,000 people. It has been the
site of countless wedding receptions, anniversaries,
private parties, banquets, fundraisers and class reunions.
As of late morning, firefighters still were pouring
water on the charred remains. The site was too hot
for an investigator from the Illinois State Fire Marshal's
office to examine the grounds to determine the cause.
Firefighters expected to be there all day.
Akron-Princeville was assisted by six other volunteer
departments. More than a dozen tanker trucks traveled
from the site for hours, hauling water from Dunlap
No one was injured fighting the blaze, which was
called in by a neighbor. No other property was damaged
other than a small storage shed that was part of The
Hub property. Troutman said more than 60 volunteer
firefighters took turns battling the fire amid hot,
humid conditions. Some witnesses also reported hearing
what sounded like an explosion.
"Definitely a valuable piece of central Illinois
history gone," said Troutman, whose department
held its annual ball at The Hub for half a century
until moving in recent years to nearby Arrowhead Country
Company president Lee Hofmann of International Supply
Co., which owned the building, said it ended the lease
with the previous operator of the building about three
weeks ago. The gas and electricity were still active,
he said, because several people had shown an interest
in taking over the entertainment venue.