Fire destroyed the historic Hub ballroom in Edelstein on Wednesday morning. The fire started about 2:55 a.m. The entire building, located at Illinois Route 40 and Main Street, was burned to the ground. A cause is not yet known.
Fire destroyed the historic Hub ballroom in Edelstein early Wednesday morning.
The entire building, located at Illinois Route 40 and Main Street, 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 woudn't be a matter of saving the building, it would be a matter of containing the fire."
As of 10:30 a.m., firefighters still were pouring water on the charred remains. The site was still too hot for an investigator from the state Fire Marshall's office to examine the grounds to determine the cause. Firefighters expected to be there all day.
Akron-Princeville plus six other volunteer departments worked for hours at putting out the fire. More than a dozen tanker trucks traveled from the site for hours, hauling back water from Dunlap and Princeville to fight the blaze.
The ballroom, which recently reopened, was the site of numerous community get-togethers over the years. It has been under different ownership at least twice in the last decade.
Earlene Hanlon, who owned The Hub with her husband, Ray, from 1975 to 2001, said people would come from out of state to attend the ballroom dancing events. Hanlon celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary at the venue. Her husband, Ray, passed away in 2000.
Hanlon received a phone call at 5:30 a.m. this morning from a former employee of The Hub, informing her of the fire.
“It was all wooden and very old. I knew if anything ever started, the whole thing would go and it would go fast,” Hanlon said. “It’s just one of those things. Now we just have our memories and have to go on from there.”
Darrell Hadley, singer and keyboardist for Gypsy Road Band, said it’s a huge loss for the area. Hadley had played the club many times with his bands, including Southern Cross and Abilene.
“We had a blast. We could have 800 to 1,000 people in there, and in this area there wasn’t a place to play in front of that many people," Hadley said. "That made it a lot of fun. It’s a big loss, it’s really sad.”
David Hoffman, president of the Peoria Federation of Musicians, has fond memories of playing on the stage that has hosted greats such as Duke Ellington.
“It was an honor to play there. It was a great place to play, a great place to dance. It was like going back in time to the '30s and '40s and '50s,” he said. “They don’t build ballrooms anymore, most of the places are hotel convention centers. There’s just a difference.
Longtime local concert promoter Jay Goldberg said the building’s demise is also a loss for up-and-coming promoters. The building reopened in September 2008 and recently hosted acts such as The Lee Boys, a "sacred steel" band from Florida.
“This last year there’s been a lot of new activity out there,” Goldberg said. “It was a gem of a building. The hardwood dance floor was amazing. It was a great opportunity for new promoters — a viable venue for them to learn their craft, get their connections and pay their dues.”
One of those promoters is Jason Miles, owner of Miles and Miles Productions, who brought in The Lee Boys on June 12. It was the venue’s last act.
“It had been a big opportunity for me to step into a 1500-seat venue that wasn’t run by the big guys,” he said. “It was a place where they had given me a chance to come in and see what I could do. I sure wish I had known it was the last show."
Miles was looking in to bringing acts such as Dinosaur Jr. and the Plain White T’s in the future.
The Hub, built in 1938 by Bert Potter of Potter Implement Co., originally was intended as a display for farm implements. But 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 who include 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's been the site of countless wedding receptions, anniversaries, private parties, banquets, fund-raisers, class reunions and even Mexican quinceaneras.
"It's the last place in Illinois I know that was built for a ballroom," Bill Rexford of Rexford Dance Studios in Peoria Heights said in 2006. "It's the place to go for ballroom (dance)."
Peoria Journal Star