A new beginning for a historic church in Knox Co.
It started with a newly-found family heirloom: a punchbowl
PEORIA (25 News Now) - An old church just south of Knoxville was forced to close its doors during to the pandemic.
It sat empty for nine months before a couple decided they wanted to buy the historic chapel and renovate it.
Our Morning Reporter Brett Brooks has the story from Knox County, “since 1898 this church has been a staple of the community. Now this one couple with decades of marital bliss under their belt is trying to help couples create the best day of their lives right here in this building.”
“I found her punch bowl here. We hadn’t found that punch bowl since she passed away and it was left here at the church and we kind of felt like maybe that was a sign. That maybe we should buy it,”
Jolene Eiker’s grandmother served on the usher board back when the Orange Chapel Methodist Church was at its peak in the 1950′s and 60′s.
Hundreds of members would congregate here on Sundays filling these now empty wooden pews shoulder to shoulder.
But attendance began to drop more and more over time and the pandemic completely shut down services as Jolene one of the new owners explains, “there were only five left before it closed but years ago. There used to be 100. This would be filled on Sundays, years ago. It’s been many years ago but there used to be a lot of people.”
Now Jolene and her husband Daniel, who attended this church as a kid with his father, are the new owners of this historic building.
“We drove by here every Tuesday night on our way to dinner in Maquon and we thought ‘oh that’ll be a great wedding place.’” Said Jolene.
They say even with a big vision, buying it and the renovations of the chapel did not come easy. The building was near dilapidated when they took possession.
The stained glass windows are one of the only original pieces still a part of the structure.
Daniel Eiker, another co-owner and Jolene’s husband explains what projects they had to complete before opening its doors, “the basement was the first step. The walls were buckling in. Then we went on to the outside. We did the trees. We went inside and we worked on the basement stripping pulling all the tiles down, so everything is clean and up to date.”
“We probably put close to 100 grand in but it’s here to last another 100 years now,” says Jolene
Hoping to fill the building once again with people, this time with couples sharing and celebrating their weddings with friends and loved ones.
“The pair both say this is perfect for those in the area looking for a nice, quiet area to have their wedding in the middle of corn fields and in the country. Now orange chapel reflections are officially opened after having their open house earlier this month for all types of event space housing up to 150 people.” Said Brett Brooks.
Orange Chapel Reflections is located on Knox Highway 27 in Gilson, Illinois.
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