FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — One group is sharing its plans for renovation with the public on Sunday after a piece of local history is saved from the bulldozers.
A deal made by the Freeport Park District handed the “Tabernacle” at Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S Cranes Grove Rd., over to a group motivated to revive and restore the historic property. Their goal is to get the building back to being functional for the community.
“It’s a historic building, was an important part of this park here called Oakdale and a part of Freeport,” said Joe Kanosky, member of Save the Tabernacle.
Save the Tabernacle is a coalition formed by citizens who are dedicated to saving the 107-year-old building.
“The first tabernacle was here in 1895,” said Tyger Johnson, member of the Freeport Library History Group. “It was built in 1895, and then May of 1915, lightning struck the top of the old tabernacle and it burned to the ground because there was nobody to help save it.”
The Tabernacle was rebuilt in 1915, this time supported with steal. Johnson has seen the building go through many different phases, and added that it would host thousands of people for various events in its prime.
“That’s what people did in the old days,” Johnson said. “There was no electricity, no cars, no airplanes, no television sets, no telephones. I’m talking about 1895, when they opened the first camp meetings here.”
The space was used for things like church services, business meetings and weddings. The group plans to bring the historic structure back to its original glory, but that comes with a cost. Kanosky said that the condition of the inside is pretty good, but the outside needs some work.
“I think if we did the entire renovation, not exactly to the exact historic specifications, it might cost $300,000,” Kanosky said. “And over the 20 year lease, might be $500,000 to keep it maintained, to operate it, and different things of that sort.”
Save the Tabernacle is raising the money on their own. Donations to help get the building back up and running, as well as volunteer opportunities, can be found on their website.