Fate of Famed Oakland Nature Preserve to be decided today

Fate of Famed Oakland Nature Preserve to be decided today

Freeport Park District board has decided to take another vote on Tuesday evening on the future of the famed Oakdale Tabernacle Auditorium. The board will vote whether they should demolish the Auditorium at Oakdale Nature Preserve located just outside the city of Freeport, Illinois.

The tabernacle’s origins date back to 1895 when the Oakdale Park Camp Meeting Association held its first 10-day gathering on the site. The festivities included at the site were Bible study, religious services, and outdoor activities for all ages. The festivities were so popular at one time that 2,000 people took part in these annual camp meetings.

Tragedy struck in 1915 when the original tabernacle burned. It was replaced with this eight-sided tabernacle before the 1916 August camp meeting. The United Methodist Church took over the operation of the meetings. The last annual gathering took place in 1967. The Freeport Park District bought the campground in 1971. They rented the Tabernacle for community events.

In 2012, the building was closed down due to a lack of bookings. Since then, the wildlife has overrun the building and made it inhabitable. Various threats have come to demolish it but a group of community advocates is pressuring the Freeport Park District to restore it. They are pressuring to make it a low-cost alternative that could be used as a community gathering space.

On April 25, 2018, Landmarks Illinois had asked the various stakeholders of the region to nominate threatened or endangered historic properties for its annual list. They announced the 2018 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Oakdale Tabernacle and two other Tabernacles in Illinois made the most endangered in the 15 historic places on the 2018 list.

Guest Writer

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