FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — A Freeport landmark is getting an upgrade.
The Oakdale Tabernacle has been around for over 100 years, being built in 1915. A group of advocates said that it is a unique space worth saving for all to enjoy.
“I just love old buildings and I see that value,” said Kathy Wilken, president of the ‘Save the Tabernacle’ steering committee. “My husband and I both see the value of saving a building for future generations.”
Wilken said that she remembers going to the Tabernacle when she was a girl scout.
“We used to come out here. We would walk from Freeport and come out here and have little programs, and then we would have our awards ceremony out here,” she said.
A committee was created to ‘Save the Tabernacle’ when word got out about possibly tearing down the historic building. They officially took it over from the Freeport Park District in 2021, entering a 20-year lease agreement in which they are in charge of repairs, maintenance and running the century-old building.
Committee member Joe Kanosky said that their team is dedicated to restoring the historic landmark.
“One of the things that really makes this building special is the inside. It’s steel girder construction…..A man from Rockford came over here in 1915, and [in] two months put the steel up that’s supporting this building. So, it’s one of the only, if not the only, steel supported tabernacle in the area,” Kanosky said. “The steel and the structure inside is what makes ours unique and a real historic importance.”
Rehabilitating is no easy task. The group raised $100,000 to start the clean up and get a new roof, which drone footage from Mas Roofing Sliding & Decking was shown to be completely installed on August 20. Kanosky said that they have other things they want to fix, such as restoring the cupola.
“We want to be able to redo a stage and be able to put on theater events, church events, but also people have asked us if they could have weddings out here,” he said.
Kanosky, Wilken and the rest of the “Save the Tabernacle” steering committee is hoping that people see the significance of the Oakdale Tabernacle and want to get involved in the project.
“There’s value in saving historic buildings, there is a value,” Wilken said. “That’s a huge value to the community, not only for Freeport, but Northwest Illinois.”
The committee is hoping to have all of the major renovations completed within the next year to be able and host some events. Those who wish to see the renovations for themselves can visit an open house on October 7 for the “Reincarnation of Oakdale.”