Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Trip back in Time

On a recent outing with fellow photographer Stephen Beatty I ventured down south to the Wheels O'Time museum in Dunlap, just outside of Peoria, IL. For those who don't know about it this is a museum devoted to saving, restoring, and displaying odd bits of  Illinois history as well as things of a national interest. Begun in 1977 it's open six months out of the year and staffed entirely by volunteer labor.

They have four buildings chock full of items from our area including some rare examples of local automotive history, a 1925 Velie built in Moline by the grandson of John Deere, a 1917 Glide built by the Bartholomew co, of East Peoria, a 1917 Gem built by Charles Duryea and still more. There's a trimotor aircraft hanging from the ceiling, several displays of motorized railroad models from the Peoria area all set up to be made to move at the touch of a button.

Their largest display by far is the locomotive, tender, and train cars sitting alongside the main building. It, too, is set up so you can climb a platform and step into the cab, blow the whistle, ring the bell and pretend you're at the throttle, pulling an express down the line. My trip was cut short the day i was there and I had to leave before I was finished. So expect to see another post sometime in the near future with a bunch more photo's.

The museum is located on Route 40 on the outskirts of Peoria and there is a donation of $7.00 for admission for adults and $ 3.50 for ages 3-11, well worth the price. So if you ever find yourself bored on a weekend or the kids are bugging you to go do something, consider a trip back in Time.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The little stone chapel

Little Nick and I were in Grand Detour a couple weeks ago for their john Deere days and as we were leaving got a lead to go find a tiny fieldstone chapel that was just down the road. As we were snapping photo's of it Mr. David Nelson came out to talk to us and as it turns out he had a key to the chapel and graciously offered to give Lil' Nick a tour of the inside.

St. Peters Episcopal church is believed to be one of the earliest Episcopal churches in Illinois. The parish was organized on May 15th, 1847 and  a recent arrival from the state of Connecticut, Abraham Joseph Warner, was appointed as the first minister.  The church and its furnishings were designed by Reverend Warner and on June 9th, 1849 ground was broken for the construction of the chapel. The land had been donated by Leonard Andrus, the founder of Grand Detour and one time business partner of John Deere and was built from native limestone from a local quarry.

The corner stone was laid on July 17th, 1849 and contains the following items:

A Bible, a Prayer book,  A copy of the Constitution of the United States, A copy of the Declaration of Independence, A copy of the Illinois state Constitution, The names of the priests-wardens-and vesterymen, The names of the subscribers to the church fund, The names of the  founders of the town, And gold and silver coins totaling $19.35.

The building was finished on May 17, 1850 and the following Sunday services were held there presided over by Philander Chase, the Archbishop of Illinois. But time, like may things, is sometimes cruel. The railroads ultimately bypassed Grand Detour and river traffic was made impractical by cheap rail traffic and by the turn of the century the church fell into disuse. In the early 1900's the church was made right again by William Andrus, the son of the town's founder and in  1907 Reverend Albert Whitcomb started holding afternoon services there in the summer months.

Whitcomb was appointed priest in charge in 1931 and served until 1934 when he passed away. He was buried next to his church in a small tomb in the front yard of the property.  After his death the church again fell into disuse with only sporadic services being held there until a group of concerned citizens formed the Saint Peter's Church Preservation Committee in 1989 to try and save the structure. After ten years of fundraising and restoration work to bring the church back to its original 1850's appearance the very first service held was the wedding of the Great granddaughter of Reverend Whitcomb.

Saint Peters is a rare surviving example of a 'Low church', an Episcopalian style of building that steered away from stained glass windows, ornate crosses, and other elements that might be found in the Roman Catholic churches of the same period.  In 2000 St. Peter's marked the 150th anniversary of it's founding and is now used for weddings, funerals, concerts and family events.

Many, many thanks to David and Cynthia Nelson for providing me with the back story on the church and for graciously allowing Nick the tour of the inside . If you're ever passing thru Grand detour and stop at the John Deere site, consider driving past the church if for no other reason than to take a picture. you won't be sorry you did.