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Restoration efforts underway for Freeport historic site

Freeport Park District

The Oakdale Tabernacle is on the 2018 Landmark Illinois Endangered List.

A northern Illinois nonprofit saved a historic building from a planned demolition that was supposed to happen last year but now the goal is to revive the structure. A local group is helping during a donation event Oct. 14.

100 Women Who Care - Stephenson County will put their quarterly donations, which is $100 per member, towards restoring the Oakdale Tabernacle located inside the Oakdale Nature Preserve in Freeport.

Jennifer Kanosky is one of the founding members of Save the Tabernacle. This group fought to keep the antique structure intact. She said she was furious when she first heard last year that the Freeport Park District was looking to tear down the building.

“That something so, you know, in our country, something that's over 100 years old is an antique, is an old structure. And I did not like the thought that we would lose this part of our cultural heritage because they just thought it was superfluous,” she explained. “And so, we just gathered a group of people who were like minded and believed in historic preservation of important buildings, and just started fighting.”

And the nonprofit won. The organization signed a 20-year lease this August.

Joe Kanosky is also a member of Save the Tabernacle. He said the group has received some funds from silent donors.

“And we'll be needing to look for some larger, more significant donations, in addition to this one as we go forward. Some to immediately work on repairing the building. Some for long term maintenance and care of the building. It's a 20-year project to get it revived and operational.”

Other donations include paintings of the tabernacle by Terry Werntz, a local artist and retired teacher. One image will be displayed at a future event and sold as 8 by 10's. The other will be displayed on notecards.

Proceeds from all donations will be used to help with cleaning efforts, winterizing the building, some roof repairs and other maintenance needs.

Joe said the nonprofit has big plans for the establishment.

“And the tabernacle, we believe, when fully renovated will be a jewel and an attraction for people, not just from Freeport, but from all over Northwest Illinois," he said.

Jennifer mentioned that the structure will be used for weddings, plays, memorial services, parties, lectures, and many other things. She added that the tabernacle belongs to the community and the goal is to bring everyone together.

The donation ceremony takes place at 4 p.m. Oct. 14 at the preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove Road. Information on how to contribute can be found here.