Central Congregational Church Window Fund

When anyone pictures Galesburg undoubtedly an image of Central Congregational Church comes to mind. Finished in 1898 by the founding abolitionists, the Richardson Romanesque architecture of this landmark has been featured on the streets, flags, and most brochures advertising Galesburg as a tourist attraction.  Indeed the church is one of the many visited landmarks in Galesburg, hosting tours to architecture, stained glass and organ enthusiasts alike. Unfortunately, with any building this old, the costs of maintenance and renovation can be quite dear.

As with many of the older churches in town, we have been battling the common  problems of roof repairs and plaster issues.  Another issue for Central is the condition of our stained glass windows.   “We knew the windows would need a major overhaul, we just didn’t know it would be now.” says Church Moderator, Ann Ehler.  The 1,080 square feet of art glass on the North side of the building, visible to the town square, is a feature of the sanctuary.  It was dedicated to Henry Hitchcock because of his work while a superintendent of the CB&Q railroad.  A staunch abolitionist, Hitchcock directed his conductors to turn a blind eye to any runaway slave attempting to board the train with a caution that all had disembarked before arriving at the Chicago Union Station where slave catchers would be waiting.

 “The support system that holds the windows in place has been compromised due to age and weather to the point where they can no longer be considered supporting. Three to five inches is how far, how much play, there is in the structural support system. Without the exterior support, the entire system bends and sways, and the stained glass windows begin to crack or self-destruct..  A small exterior window at the top has failed, partially falling inward toward the stain glass.  Without a restored exterior support system, we will lose the entire window.” Ann continues.  “If the windows go, there will be a domino effect on the health of the sanctuary and the entire building.   When we began fund raising we’d hoped to have more time to accomplish our goal.  This latest development proves that we no longer have the luxury of time.  Losing even the small portion of the exterior window breaks the tension and the integrity of the entire unit which causes further stress and instability.  We have been fundraising for this day and have managed to raise a portion but we need an additional $90,000 more to restore the structural support system and secure the window.  If we are going to be able to save this building and not have the first thing people see when they come to Galesburg is our beautiful structure with boarded up windows, we are going to need some outside help.”  

In 2018 Central was listed as one of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places of Illinois.  The windows played a significant part of that determination.  Unfortunately, that title came with no financial provisions or grants for repair forcing us to seek financial help from this community and friends and members of the church.  To combat this problem, Central Congregational has started a “go fund me” account in the hope of raising the remaining $90.000. “This is a project where ‘It takes a village’.  It would be wonderful if everyone who has admired this building could give what they can” says Ann.  “We’re very grateful for those who have donated before, but more is needed.  The original purpose of this building was to be a community gathering place as well as a house of worship and we want to continue that purpose.  We want this beautiful building to be a part of the Galesburg landscape for future generations to enjoy.”
  • Anonymous 
    • $500 
    • 11 d
  • David Cunningham 
    • $50 
    • 18 d
  • Mary Bruketta 
    • $25 
    • 1 mo
  • Mark Anderson 
    • $200 
    • 1 mo
  • Heather Sipes 
    • $25 
    • 1 mo
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Central Congregation Church 
Galesburg, IL
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