Peoria was the whiskey capital of the world. Alcohol production was a business that meant a huge income for the distillery owners, who in turn made a huge contribution to the community in the form of culture, buildings and sculptures—some of which still stand today. It also provided jobs, not just in the alcohol industry but for a myriad of businesses that supported the distilleries. The production of whiskey and beer was a source of important taxes for both the federal and local governments. But times change, and in January of 1920, it all came to an end.
WTVP presents From Distilleries to Stills: Prohibition in Peoria, a new documentary looking at the causes of Prohibition, its effects on Peoria, and the legacy left behind. It also shares a few stories of the more lawless and colorful activities that it inspired. Hosted by Brian “Fox” Ellis, the half-hour special premieres Monday, Mar. 7 at 9 p.m., and encores Monday, Mar. 14 at 9:30 p.m. and Thursday, Mar. 24 at 9 p.m.
In conjunction with this local premiere, we also tell the national story of Prohibition with an encore of Prohibition: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Set in the era of bathtub gin, bootleggers and speakeasies, the series tells the true story of the rise, rule and fall of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was called the Noble Experiment, but it was in fact one of America’s most notorious civic failures, an object lesson in the challenge of legislating human behavior. The three-part series airs Mondays, Mar. 7 & 14 at 7 p.m. and Monday, Mar. 21 at 8 p.m.
For more on Prohibition, nationally and locally, check out “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition”, an interactive and immersive exhibit featured through May 30 at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.
Photos courtesy of the Peoria Historical Society.
Thursday, March 3, 5-7 p.m.
WTVP Studio [map & Directions]
101 State Street
Peoria, IL 61602
WTVP Members are invited to join us in our studio-turned-speakeasy for “happy hour”, a wine tasting courtesy of Mackinaw Valley Vineyard, and a special preview screening of From Distilleries to Stills, WTVP’s new documentary on Peoria during the Prohibition era. We’ll also give you a taste of Prohibition: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick which will be airing in conjunction with the local special.
Admission is free but reservations required. RSVP to (309) 495-0547 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WTVP has produced a series of Peoria Prohibition short videos. Click on the image to play the video.