1211 Broadway was designed by Arthur Pillsbury in 1911 for E.E. and Gertrude Pierson. E.E. Pierson was in the dry goods business and had stores on West Front Street and North Main Street. The Italianate Victorian home has an unpainted stucco exterior and a red tile roof with four bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and two half-baths.
The Piersons lived in the home until 1919 when they sold it to Dr. Paul and Julia Greenleaf, who had moved to Normal from Lexington. Ten years after the death of her husband in 1927, Julia Greenleaf married Ben S. Rhodes, who had been mayor of Bloomington for 3 terms and was a State Representative for about 30 years. Ben passed away in 1969 and Julia continued living in the home until her death in 1970.
Dr. James and Judith Bilyeu (the current owner’s aunt and uncle) owned the home from 1975 through 2006. Dr. Bilyeu was an internist and medical director for Country Life Insurance as well as member of the BroMenn Healthcare board of directors. The Bilyeus were active members of the community while raising their three sons Curtis, Tim, and Michael in the home.
During the Bilyeu years, the kitchen was remodeled and a garage was added to the house. The current owners raised the roof above the garage in 2009 to add a full-height loft room. Most recently, the upstairs bathroom was remodeled and a closet was added. Throughout the various renovations, much of the original charm and character remain – from the flooring and woodwork to the original fireplace and the glass doorknobs.
On the doorknobs - you may notice that they are set higher than normal. According to historians, these high door knobs were meant to give a cozy look to rooms with high ceilings. It was also an optical trick to make the ceiling height look less than it was. To fit into this theme, it made sense to have high door knobs. We can’t be sure if this was the plan in 1911, but it makes sense.
Things you won’t want to miss:
The original tub and fixtures in the upstairs bathroom
The loft addition at the back of the home
The many outdoor spaces and patios