PRESERVING HISTORIC IMMANUEL HALL

In 1999, a resident informed the Hinsdale Historical Society that the former Immanuel Evangelical Church, 302 S. Grant St., which at the time housed a Montessori school, had been sold to a private party and was likely to be demolished so a new home could be constructed on the site.

For months, the Society led residents and Village officials in seeking ways to preserve the small frame building, whose unique features were largely originally intact, in good condition and a vivid reminder of Hinsdale’s beginnings.

With the aid of a state grant – secured by state Senator Kirk Dillard and state Representative Patti Bellock, both Hinsdale residents – the property was purchased by the Village from its private owners, and later deeded by the Village to the Society.

The Society began the long process of assessing an appropriate rehabilitation of the building, which it renamed Immanuel Hall, and wanted to continue serving the community as it had throughout its 100-year plus existence as a church, office and school.

Various events and activities, including concerts, receptions, exhibits, meetings, rehearsals and a wedding, were held at the Hall to test its viability as a multi-purpose venue, and each was successful. Also, the Hall’s historic significance was enhanced by its listing on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places, designation as a local landmark and receipt of several preservation-related awards and citations.

Preservation architect Charles Pipal was hired. A concept plan for a rehabilitation of the Hall was created, and a fund raising committee was formed, with Mary Martha and Ted Mooney as honorary chairmen and Penny and John Bohnen as chairmen.

In nine months, the fund raising campaign raised sufficient funds from private sources to make the rehab possible. The largest contribution came from the family of Roger and Ruth Anderson and helped found the Society’s Anderson Architecture Center, located in the Hall’s lower level.

Approvals for the work were obtained from the Village, project manager Dan Ruzic was hired in the fall of 2006, and groundbreaking finally occurred in May 2007.

Not surprisingly, the rehab of the Hall was a near-total “gut job” of the lower level and featured the following: a 17x21-foot rear addition to improve access to the building, add new space and free existing space for other uses; a completely rehabilitated lower level for the above-noted Anderson Center and Society archives, as well as washrooms, a mechanical room and storage areas; a new, fully-equipped kitchen on the upper level of the building’s original rear room; and an extensively refurbished main floor on the upper level.

Also, a completely new roof, new gutters, a reconditioned bell tower and spire, a replica of the original finial atop the spire, new siding and trim to replace damaged areas, and new stucco on the exposed foundation; a complete interior and exterior painting, with the latter in a scheme close to the original; and state-of-the-art HVAC, fire detection and suppression, and safety and security systems; damp-proofing of the entire original foundation; insulation of the attic; and upgraded utility services.

The total cost of the rehab exceeded $1,000,000 including numerous in-kind contributions of services and materials. 

The real bottom line: Immanuel Hall is ready to serve the community for another 100-plus years.