Grassroots group wins bid to save historic Oakdale Tabernacle in Freeport

Local News

FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — The future of Freeport’s Oakdale Tabernacle has been up in the air for over four years, but now the group trying to save the 105-year-old facility says its reached a deal with the Freeport Park Board.

The Tabernacle, located in the Oakdale Nature Preserve, was built in 1915, on the site of an original structure which was destroyed in 1895. It was used to hold meetings, church sermons, and musicals. In the 2010’s, the building fell into disrepair.

It was slated for demolition after the park district determined that it was not structurally sound.

“It’s an important historical landmark for us and Stephenson County and Freeport, and we thought it would be a shame to destroy such a building that so many people have fond memories of, not just Oakdale but [of] being in the Tabernacle,” said Joe Kanosky, member of Save the Tabernacle, Inc.

Kanosky, along with eight others – Merry Blake, Jody Coss, Jennifer Kanosky, Ed Klein, Sharon Koch, Juliet Moderow, Kathy Wilken, and Doug Wilken – came together with one mission in mind:

“There was so many people in the community that rallied around us during our struggle, to convince the park district not to destroy this place, that we’re encouraged and gratified and completely motivated to see it through,” Jennifer Kanosky said.

After four years of lobbying, that effort paid off on Tuesday.

“We do have a 20 year lease with the park district, but we hope this revitalization we’re planning to do will add a great deal to Oakdale, in addition to the other improvements the park district is making,” Joe Kanosky said.

The Freeport Park District said, “We’re pleased to reach an agreement with Save the Tabernacle, Inc. and eager to see their vision of restoring the Tabernacle become a reality.”

The group’s plan is to restore the structure. They are accepting donations for that purpose at:

Save the Tabernacle, Inc.
P.O. Box 725
Freeport, IL 61032-0725

“Our hope is to have all sorts of events, much like how it used to be in the past,” Kanosky said. “We used to have church services, weddings, family reunions, music festivals. Whatever it might be, the setting out here is just spectacular.”

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