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First Presbyterian, Later Calvary Baptist Church, Mattoon

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We spotted this stunning dome through the trees as we drove through Mattoon, Illinois.

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As we approached, we came to the realization that the church is abandoned, with wide open windows allowing in rain and trespassers.

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But that dome! It’s been slapped with cheap metal cladding, slathered in white paint, and robbed of its original beauty.

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Victim of a pyramid scheme(?) according to locals, it now sits in purgatory. The two occupants have moved on to bigger and better (and newer) churches nearby.

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The rest of Mattoon is destroyed as is so often the case for towns on interstates. Its main square and adjoining business district streets are lined with strip malls, traffic, and no sense of history or place. It’s depressing.

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And the solution to this beauty sitting empty, according to locals? Tear it down, of course! Because at sometime in our history (Modernism is to blame), our default solution to everything broken is to destroy it. Mattoon has already squandered so much, it would be a shame to see it squander even more. But hey, if they want to make their town unremarkable, so be it. It makes the places in America that treasure their history all the more profitable for tourism and investment.

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