The Oakdale Tabernacle Archives – Freeport, Illinois

FREEPORT, ILLINOIS — The Oakdale Tabernacle is a century-old steel and wood community gathering place owned by the Freeport Park District.  The origins of the tabernacle date back to 1895, when the Oakdale Park Camp Meeting Association held its first 10-day gathering on the site. Festivities included Bible study, religious services and outdoor activities for all ages. At one time, 2,000 people took part in these annual camp meetings.

In 1915, the original 1895 tabernacle burned, but was replaced with this eight-sided tabernacle before the 1916 August camp meeting. Eventually, the United Methodist Church took over operation of the meetings, with the last annual gathering taking place in 1967.

In 1971, the Freeport Park District bought the campground, renting out the Tabernacle for community events. The building was closed in 2012 due to lack of bookings.

Since that time, wildlife has overrun the building and made the structure uninhabitable. Despite threats of demolition, a group of community advocates is pressuring the Freeport Park District to restore it as a low-cost alternative that could be used as a community gathering space.

On April 25, 2018, at a press conference in Springfield, Landmarks Illinois through asking preservationists, community leaders and concerned citizens throughout the state to nominate threatened or endangered historic properties for its annual list, announced its 2018 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.

Of the 15 other historic places on the 2018 list, Oakdale Tabernacle along with two other Tabernacles in Illinois made the most endangered.

The Freeport Park District board voted 3 to 2 to demolish the 105-year-old structure. A growing group of Freeport-area residents is working to save a historic building that’s slated for demolition.

This page is an archive of the news coverage, resources, groups and stories of the famed Oakdale Tabernacle in Freeport, Illinois.


Freeport Park District Votes To Stay Execution of Oakdale Tabernacle

The prolonged, drawn out slow drip of what might be the fate of the historic Tabernacle at Oakdale Nature Preserve is voted on again, at the Freeport Park District board meeting dated March 3, 2020.

Demolition of Oakdale Tabernacle suspended

REEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — The century-old Oakdale Tabernacle will stay intact–for now. The Park District voted to back out of a contract with the company set to bring it down.

On Tuesday night, the board voted to terminate the demolition contract that was previously set for the Tabernacle after receiving a state grant of $400,000 to improve the Oakdale Nature Preserve. Members of the board released the following statement:

Demolition of historic Freeport building canceled

FREEPORT (WREX) — The Feeport Park District reversed its decision to tear down the Oakdale Tabernacle.

The unanimous vote Tuesday came after the Illinois DNR said the city could lose $400,000 in grant money if the tabernacle was demolished.

The board said in a statement that it wanted more time to gauge the state’s interest in the building before moving forward.

Tonight, The Fate of The Famed Oakdale Nature Preserve Auditorium Decided

FREEPORT, ILLINOIS — Another vote is planned by the Freeport Park District board Tuesday evening to decide whether it should demolish the famed Oakdale Tabernacle Auditorium at Oakdale Nature Preserve located just outside the city of Freeport, Illinois.

Oakdale Tabernacle will be demolished after heated Freeport Park District re-vote 

Freeport Park District votes to demolish the Oakdale Tabernacle

It was a packed house at the Freeport Park District board meeting, as a decision on the Oakdale Tabernacle came to a re-vote.

 “This investment was far above and beyond anything that many of the folks here are asking for this evening. But those 3,608 constituents voted ‘yes,’ that this investment is worth it.”

Freeport Park District board will vote again on future of Oakdale Tabernacle following questions of OMA violation

FREEPORT (WREX) — The Freeport Park District board will vote again on whether it will demolish the Oakdale Tabernacle, a more than 100-year-old structure in need of repairs.

Freeport Park District Commissioner Ken Collin said the Illinois Attorney General’s office recommended a re-vote because wording on the Jan. 7 agenda was “vague.” Failure to re-vote, Collin said, could be an Open Meetings Act violation. Under the OMA, public governing bodies must list actions that plan to be taken on agendas.

Local group raises thousands to ‘Save the Tabernacle’

FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — Freeport’s Oakdale Tabernacle was slated to be demolished in January. However, the grassroots group trying to save it is not giving up hope.

The “Save the Tabernacle” group says they sent the Freeport Park Commissioners two proposals outlying their plan.

Freeport Residents Band Together To ‘Save The Tabernacle’

A growing group of Freeport-area residents is working to save a historic building that’s slated for demolition.

The Oakdale Tabernacle is a century-old steel and wood community gathering place owned by the Freeport Park District. It’s also known as the Oakdale Auditorium and is located within the Oakdale Nature Preserve. Park District commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to tear it down.

$5 Petition to Save the Tabernacle

Should we save the Tabernacle? This is like a petition but with some “teeth”. Anyone can participate. If you love history, or love old buildings, join us to save this building. It’s not just for the enjoyment of our town, the Tabernacle needs to be there for anyone that wants to see it, use it, and know what it might have been like to celebrate and pray in 105 years ago.

LIVE at the February 18, 2020 Freeport Park District board meeting, part one.

LIVE at the February 18, 2020 Freeport Park District board meeting, part two.

From the Old Pine Rocker: The historic Oakdale Tabernacle is worthy of saving

After attending a recent meeting hosted by the Freeport Park District concerning the fate of the tabernacle at Oakdale Nature Preserve, I’m more convinced than ever that Freeport needs to preserve this historic century-old structure.

Landmarks Illinois Names Oakdale Tabernacle 2018 Most Endangered Historic Places 

Illinois — Landmarks Illinois has announced the 2018 most endangered historic places in Illinois and on the list this year is one of Stephenson County’s most treasured place— the Tabernacle that graces the grounds of Oakdale Nature Preserve.

Petition – Save The Oakdale Tabernacle

Why is this important?

The Oakdale Tabernacle is a 103-year-old historic building with deep ties to the community. It is in danger of demolition due to decades of neglect by the Freeport Park District, which has deferred simple maintenance and closed it for use. Other significant structures at Oakdale Nature Preserve Park have been demolished and despite studies and plans for renewal of the Tabernacle, the Commissioners have taken no action to take care of this irreplaceable structure.

Oakdale Auditorium Master Plan

Friends of the Freeport Park District Public Group | Facebook

Jody Cross criticizes decision of demolition of historic Oakdale Tabernacle

The historic Oakdale Tabernacle is located at Oakdale Nature Preserve. The Freeport Park District has taken a decision to demolish the Tabernacle. Jody Cross is upset with the decision along with hundreds of other Freeport citizens. Cross thinks that the decision is bad for the community. 49% of the community shares the view of Cross.

Oakdale Tabernacle to be demolished

FREEPORT, Ill. — Freeport’s Oakdale Tabernacle is set to be demolished.
After nearly 50 residents poured out to Tuesday’s meeting the Freeport Park District elected to tear the tabernacle down.

Lessons of Place

Photographing Endangered Historic Sites in IllinoisFor Forgotten Illinois Liz Chilsen researched and created photographs at endangered historic sites in Illinois seeking to answer the core question: “What can these endangered sites tell us about the ever-evolving identity of our state?”

Combining Passion, Community Willingness, and History

Our Tabernacle is one of a kind, Let’s save it from the wrecking ball.

Our 105 yr-old Tabernacle at Oakdale Nature Preserve that is 2.8 miles south of Freeport, holds so many memories for people in our community. It’s also on the Landmark Illinois 2018 Endangered List because it’s one of a kind.

The Demolition of Freeport History and Public Use Places – Oakdale Nature Preserve

Freeport, Illinois — A group of local citizens, us included, are concerned about the future of one of Freeport’s most unique

Have They Been Lying To Us?

Has the park district wanted to destroy the Oakdale Tabernacle all along?

Freeport Park District One Of 26 Grant Recipients Of ComEd’s Green Region Program

ComEd, Openlands Support Sustainable Communities in Northern Illinois with 26 Environmental Grants. More than $200,000 in funding granted to open space projects.

Freeport Park District To Conduct Public Focus Groups Regarding Oakdale Auditorium

Freeport, Illinois — According to the Freeport Park District website, the Freeport Park District will be conducting public focus groups

EXCLUSIVE: A last and final look inside

EXCLUSIVE: A last and final look inside the historic Oakdale Tabernacle/Auditorium that sits on the grounds of Oakdale Nature Preserve just outside the city of Freeport, Illinois. The building, which was built in 1914, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is set to be demolished after a 3-2 vote on Tuesday by the Freeport Park District Board. Here’s a final look around.

Say Goodbye To Another Freeport Memory.

Oakdale Park Structure Getting Demolished. Join Greg this Sunday morning as he gives you a personal look into the buildings, park and trails of a beautiful Freeport destination. Share A Memory or Thought. Chime In. Share This.

November 2017 Board Meeting:

Tonight At The Freeport Park District Board Meeting. Many citizens are concerned about the fate of one of Oakdale Nature Preserve’s most treasured buildings, the Auditorium. In 2015 the Park District did a Master Plan for Oakdale Nature preserve, which was adopted in the fall 2015. In 2016 the board allocated $25,000 for restorations and $25k for architectural analysis and conceptual design. Money to be used for the 2017 year.

May 2018 – Freeport Park District Board Meeting – Oakdale Auditorium Master Plan

We will update this page ongoing.

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