Plans for the hotel emerged in 1924 business leaders sought to construct a first-class hotel in downtown Peoria, deemed necessary to accommodate the downtown social life, visitors, and traveling businesspersons. Much like the grand hotels of New York and Chicago, designs for the hotel included several lavish, ornate, and modern characteristics. Guests immediately entered the building through a grand lobby and could attend parties in the ballroom that featured a high, domed ceiling and large, French-window mirrors. Crystal chandeliers and art pieces could also be found in several places throughout the hotel. And, guests also had the opportunity to enjoy the hotel's fine dining as it staffed world-class chefs, usually with French training.
One art piece, in particular, speaks to the hotel's name. The financier commissioned George M Harding, an artist renowned for his work in Harper's Weekly and the Saturday Evening Post, to paint two murals for the hotel. Harding spent eight weeks researching the murals before starting his work, one of which detailed Père Marquette landing in Peoria in 1673 (then home to the Native American Pimiteoui Nation).
The hotel did more than offer eye-catching details because it also served the town's economic needs as a convention center. The hotel held 14 conventions in 1927, which increased to 46 by 1935. Even though the 1950s and '60s, the hotel held the distinction as the largest convention center in Illinois, outside of Chicago.
The original owners managed the property until 1933, during the Great Depression, and then they sold it to a Des Moines hotel chain, who managed it until 1951. After that, it was sold to the Hilton Corporation. Since then, it has changed hands several times. Most recently it operated as part of the Marriott chain, but in 2018 it was sold again to a new group. Regardless of the changes, the hotel operated as an important component of Peoria's business and social history for decades. Numerous celebrities and dignitaries stayed or visited the hotel; Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Ford stayed in the hotel while Reagan and Carter spoke there.