Mystery of the Vault

This past winter Baldovin Construction uncovered a mysterious brick structure with a vaulted ceiling buried under the ground.

by Chris Farris, Peoria Public Library
The Vault at Venue Chisca
The vault at Venue Chisca

Dr. Joseph Studer emigrated from Switzerland to Peoria in 1857. Biographical material describes him as a kindly, energetic and talented physician who was honored and respected by all. He was the first physician to offer his medical expertise to a fledgling St. Francis Hospital in 1876, and he served with the hospital for decades. Dr. Studer moved to California in his later years and died in 1910 at the age of 87. 

What brought this forgotten local legend to my attention was a recent discovery in the 1000 block of SW Adams in Peoria’s Warehouse District. This past winter Baldovin Construction—while working with the Kim Group on developing a new outdoor space for 1009 Washington LLC—uncovered a mysterious brick structure with a vaulted ceiling buried under the ground. 

Joseph Studer

What was the connection of this “vault” to Joseph Studer? My research shows that besides being an M.D., he was also a vintner and proprietor of Lake View Vineyard, which was located north of the boundaries of the city in the 1860s. According to our records, Dr. Studer built his house in 1859 on the property now occupied by Venue Chisca. An advertisement from 1868 confirmed that the wine he produced at Lake View Vineyard was sold in his wine cellar, which was located on Dr. Studer’s property on South Adams. Mystery solved!

Dr. Studer’s former wine cellar has been preserved by Baldovin Construction and is an integral part of the new 17,000-square-foot green space known as The Quarter. PM

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