Our History

For more than 60 years, Keep Peoria Beautiful has been a catalyst for drawing together governmental agencies, civic organizations and volunteers to make an impact on a variety of city-wide beautification projects including downtown street planters, ornamental lighting and sidewalks, the Peoria County Courthouse Plaza, public art displays, landscaped parking lots, the Western Avenue Greenway project, recycling drop-off sites and much more.

1964 Landscaping ProgramThe organization was founded in 1955 following a newspaper campaign lead by columnist Jocelyn Gerry of the Peoria Journal Star, asking for help in beautifying the City of Peoria . Under the sponsorship of the Women’s Civic Federation, civic, business and governmental leaders formed a steering committee that resulted in a permanent organization being formed. 

Since then, Keep Peoria Beautiful has initiated numerous beautification projects, established recycling drop-off sites, developed pocket parks, sponsored public art, bestowed landscape and beautification awards, conducted environmental education and awareness, coordinated city-wide cleanups and riverfront beautification, all in an effort to make Peoria a more attractive place to live and work. In 1981, the organization became the local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful.

In 2008, Peoria City Beautiful changed its name to Keep Peoria Beautiful to become more aligned with Keep America Beautiful. 

Giant Burr Oak ParkJust a few highlights from the past 63 years include:

  • The first annual landscape awards presented in 1963 for outstanding landscaping and beautification efforts for commercial projects, industry, institutions, churches, schools, parking lots and civic or public projects.
  • Established the historical Giant Burr Oak Park and adjoining land for a park overlooking the city.
  • Keep Peoria Beautiful was the driving force behind developing the Peoria County Courthouse plaza. In 1965, Lady Bird Johnson dedicated the courthouse plaza.
  • Rutherford Rhodell AwardIn 1991, Rhodell Owens presented the Rhodell Owens Award to Harry Van Matre for his long-term commitment to the beautification and improvement of our city. See picture on the right. 
  • Keep Peoria Beautiful, in partnership with Peoria County, PARC, Illinois EPA, and City of Peoria has provided 17 recycling containers in the downtown area available for public use. You may have noticed our green metal containers along the sidewalk in front of the Civic Center. 
  • During the summer, we partnered with Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), along with local companies/organizations, residents and help from United Way's GEN U to continue our community outreach. We were able to provide landscape designs, planting material and physical laborfor 14 houses in the East Bluff and South Side Neighborhood. The experience was not only rewarding but provided plenty of opportunity to play in the dirt as well. Photo Jun 20 10 33 35 AM
  • Thanks to a $2,000 grant from the Illinois EPA, this year we were able to provide landscaping in front of the Peoria Public Library Lakeview Branch and Peoria Players Theater. What a diference a few hours of work can make on a highly visible area of our community! 


Board of Directors

President: Tori Stowell 
Vice President: Nicole Sutherland
Treasurer: Alex MacDonald
Secretary: Kateah McMasters

Board Members
Kayse Doering
Genny Gibbs
Mary Harden
Jacob Heck
Chip Joyce
Jim Kosner
Brooke Martin
Corinna Martinez
Jarrod Martis
Chase Miller
Ryan Palm
Kevin Reese
John Rogers
Cody Scott
Julia Smith
Kim Waldon

  • Sep 10, 2019 | 20:23 pm

    Thank you to the City of Peoria Illinois - Government for allowing us to present the 2019 Iris Award winners at tonight’s city council meeting.Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners! 🌻 ‪Let’s hear it for the Keep Peoria[…]



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Commerce Bank Building
416 Main Street, Suite 730
Peoria, IL 61602


17 June 2015

This Saturday, June 20th, residents and volunteers from local community organizations begin landscaping work on five properties in the East Bluff. This marks the first East Bluff work day associated with the Community Core Initiative...read more. 


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