In addition to being on the National Register of Historic Places, Proctor Center represents another example of Outdoor Genealogy. John C. Proctor donated the center to Peoria, Illinois, more than a century ago. The center officially opened in 1913.
The Proctor family hailed from Henniker, Merrimack County, New Hampshire. The local academy, Proctor Academy in Andover, was named in honor of the Proctor family and founded by the Unitarian society.
By some accounts, the Proctor family originated in Norfolk, England. The Proctor family arrived in the United States in the early 1700’s.
John C. Proctor relocated to Illinois in the mid-1800’s. He made his fortune in lumber and banking. On June 26, 1904, the local newspaper announced that John C. Proctor was building a home for dependents on the park grounds known as Spring Hill Park. Two years later the home opened and twenty local residents were given a home for the duration of their lives.
The John C. Proctor Endowment exists today in several forms. One is the Proctor Endowment Home
, now located elsewhere in Peoria. But, the original John C. Proctor site exists today and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.
Proctor’s own penchant for preservation can be traced back to his ancestor Edna Dean Proctor. In 1900, Houghton Mifflin published Edna Dean Proctor’s book, “The Mountain Maid and Other Poems of New Hampshire.” One of those poems was written in commemoration of New Hampshire’s Bi-Centennial and is part of the “Old Home Week” edition.
Now under the care of the Peoria Park District, the park at John C. Proctor houses the African American Hall of Fame Museum