Knox-Galesburg Pilgrim Preservation Foundation

In the News

This article appeared in the Galesburg Register Mail on 11 August 2009

Church seeks salvation

Members look to community to preserve historic building

Central Congregational Church stands in downtown Galesburg under a clear sky this morning. Church leaders say they need the public’s help if much-needed repairs are to be made to the historic building.
The Register-Mail
Posted Aug 11, 2009 @ 11:31 AM


One of Galesburg’s most historic and beautiful buildings is going to need the public’s help if needed repairs are to be made. A 501(c)(3), non-profit foundation is being formed to attempt to save the Central Congregational Church building on the square.

Steve Murmann, moderator for the church board, said a small group of people have met a number of times and have started to file papers with the state to form the foundation. Of the people working on forming the foundation, Murmann said, “So far it’s mostly church members, but that’s got to change.”

He emphasized a couple of points; first, this is not about the congregation of Central Congregational Church. Once the foundation is formed, ownership of the building will be transferred to the foundation.

“The big thing is the church has to divest itself of that building,” Murmann said, adding the hope of the members of the church is that the foundation will then rent it back to them for their worship services, but there is no guarantee that will happen.

“Our ability to support that building is over,” Murmann said. “There’s a ton of delayed maintenance coming up in the next 20 years. Our congregation is dwindling in size, which makes matters worse.”

He said there are only about 100 members of the church, “maybe.”

“This is going to be a several-year process to see if it succeeds,” Murmann said. “And, it has to succeed. The alternative is to (demolish) it. We owe it not only to our forefathers, but to our children” to save the building.

“We’ve spent the last 100 years taking care of it,” he said. “We can’t do it anymore by ourselves. If we can’t get the community to help with improvements, we’re going to fail.”

He said the church could be used for meetings and small events, such as music shows, and human services organizations could be offered office space at below-market rates. Murmann said the building would not compete with the Orpheum Theatre, however, as it has no stage.

“The hope is it will become a community asset,” he said. “It’s really the most underutilized building here in town.”

Murmann said the second thing he wants to emphasize is this is not a request for residents to pull out their checkbooks.

“Quite frankly, there’s not enough money in Knox County to maintain that church,” he said. “We’re not really asking the community for money. What we’re asking the community for is work. Within the next few months, we’re probably going to put out the word that we need people for the board of directors. What we’re asking for is work, when the time comes. I’ll help, I’ll do with I can.”

He said the problem is, roof work, plaster repairs and other repairs that are needed are “not in my skill set,” nor that of most members of the church. The expertise of the residents of the entire area will be needed.

Ultimately, of course, money will be needed, but by trying to start before the church is crumbling and by forming a foundation, hopes are that Knox College, the city of Galesburg and, likely, former Galesburg residents also will help.

“You figure we’re going to have to raise in the millions of dollars,” Murmann said. He said many people may ask, “‘why should I work? It’s not my church, but it’s Galesburg’s history. It would just be a tragedy to have” the square without that building. “This isn’t about the church. It’s the building we’re talking about. We need not only representation from the community but probably domination from the community. But we’re willing to do it. We’re willing to give up control to save the building.”

This foundation is in its infancy. We have just started to file the papers necessary to obtain 501c-3 status


Long Term Goals