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Diana Kuyper: Meeting House a historical gem

Columnist DianKuyper

Columnist Diana Kuyper

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Updated: July 29, 2011 2:30AM



If you have never been inside the renovated Meeting House, 977 Main St., I urge you to drop by sometime soon for a peek at one of Antioch’s most historically significant treasures.

The village’s oldest building, built in 1863 as the area’s first church, is usually only open the first Saturday of the month, but right now it is hosting the Northern Illinois Quilt Fest so it is open every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sept. 24.

The structure, restored to its original design in 2002, was built by the Disciples of Christ and later became St. Ignatius Episcopal Church, undergoing some changes, including installation of stained glass windows, a balcony for the choir and a stucco façade.

The historical society purchased it in 2000 when St. Ignatius built a new church at Deep Lake Road and Depot Street. The addition of a World War I Army barracks building from Fort Sheridan remains as part of the structure because it is a significant part of the meeting house’s history.

The main hall, called Beese Hall, is named after Earl and Barbara Beese in honor of their years of dedication to the historical society. It is the perfect setting for the eclectic display of historic and contemporary quilts.

The pine floor and hardwood ceiling, and tall but plain wood-framed windows, are a simple and elegant backdrop for quilts and other quilted items that date back to 1884. Two of the stained glass windows installed by the Episcopal Church would have been reinstalled but they were stolen during the renovation.

Offsetting the simple room are two magnificent chandeliers that originally hung in the State Bank of Antioch on Main Street which was built in 1926. Five smaller chandeliers were hung by the Episcopal Church after electricity was installed in 1915.

Lakes Region Historical Society President Wendy Maston is also president of the Bi-State Quilters. She helped organize the quilt fest of a dozen simultaneous quilt shows across northern Illinois from Highland Park to Galena. “It was supposed to be a small event that got much bigger than we thought it would, but it shows the art of quilting is certainly not dead,” she said.

A display of local military memorabilia dating from the Civil War through Desert Storm is on display in the former Army barracks, informally dubbed The Military Room, that also features a display of locally made Jim Beam bottles produced at Regal China.

Every Saturday through Sept. 24 a different special event or activity is scheduled, including children’s activities and quilting workshops. For more information about the show and each Saturday’s special activity, visit the Web site, www.lakesregionhistory.org, or call Maston at (847) 589-0537.

Diana Kuyper’s column appears Fridays. You can e-mail her at dkuyper4760@msn.com



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