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Take a look at how this Illinois family transformed a rural church into a new event space

Jolene Eiker purchased Orange Chapel in 2020. She believes more memories need to be made at the property that's operated as a church since before the Civil War.

GILSON, Illinois — When you're looking for the perfect space to host an event, it's all about location. When a church closed down in rural Gilson, Illinois, the options for gathering and making memories were few. But one family's connection to a building is now giving people the chance to make new memories.

Before the Civil War, people gathered at Orange Chapel. The church closed down in 2020 due to dwindling attendance. That's when the Eikers stepped in and said more memories need to be made there. They decided to open an event space called Orange Chapel Reflections.

"This was a vibrant church, full of life, and we wanted to bring that back," said Jolene Eiker. "I went here as a child, and thought it would be a good wedding venue and event venue."

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Looking around the sanctuary you will find beautiful stained glass windows. Some of them are original to the 1800 building. 

One window survived coming from the original brick church building that was built before the Civil War. The round window sits at the front of the sanctuary and reads a verse from the book of Matthew, "Come unto me, I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28.

Credit: WQAD
Original Stained Glass Window at Orange Chapel

The building is surrounded by farm fields, which complements the rustic look inside the building. That was done by design through major renovations which includes fixing the walls in the basement that were once caving in. 

"Then we had to have a new roof, then this church didn't have air conditioning and nobody wants to be without air conditioning in the summer," Eiker said.

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The building is now ready to accommodate weddings, graduations, and other celebrations with crowds as large as 150. They are currently open for bookings beginning in 2023.

The Orange Chapel Reflections is hosting a country Christmas craft show on Saturday, Nov. 26 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. At the event, you can see the building and support local artisans for Small Business Saturday.

You can learn more about Orange Chapel Reflections by visiting their Facebook or Instagram page. You can also call them at 309-509-6252.

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