A Publication of WTVP

Potential in Old Houses

The @cheapoldhouses Instagram account frequently highlights older homes in Peoria that are on the market.

by Mae Gilliland Wright |
A cheap old house in Peoria

When we consider Peoria history, we tend to think of the obvious subjects: our whiskey heritage, the vaudeville era, or people like Richard Pryor and Betty Friedan. But recently Peoria has been popping up on the national scene for another reason: our old homes.

The @cheapoldhouses Instagram account, which boasts over 726,000 followers, frequently highlights older homes in Peoria that are on the market. It was created by Elizabeth Finkelstein, founder of CIRCA—a curated, online historic house marketplace—and Country Living magazine’s official real estate columnist. The account started as a blog on her website highlighting homes under $50,000.

“They were not just fixer-uppers, but houses that had amazing bones—like, I cannot believe that’s so cheap!” Finkelstein explains. Her posts quickly went viral, and soon she grew it into a regular Instagram feed, which also went viral. “I think the kinds of people who follow
@cheapoldhouses are people who have a very creative version of life and can see the potential in things,” she observes.

While she features homes from across the country, certain places pop up more often than others. Besides Peoria, they include Youngstown, Ohio; Rockford, Illinois; and Palestine, Texas. “This feed has been so fun because I’ve learned about all these places that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise,” she notes. “And Peoria, I would say, is at the top of that list, because hands-down my favorite houses I have ever posted are in Peoria.” 

For those interested in purchasing an older home, she says the internet has made it easier than ever to learn the skills needed to restore them. Still, she urges patience—your home may not be Instagram-worthy in just a few weeks. “You may have to be willing to live with a crappy kitchen for 10 years,” she laughs. “Sometimes the process is the fun part.” Follow them on Instagram @cheapoldhouses. PM