Through the randomness of Google Maps, I spotted a new landmark popping up in the countryside north of Lincoln, Illinois.
Labeled Bethel Church, I knew the short ten minute drive off the interstate was going to be worthwhile. The style of the church is an interesting mix of the massing of the Gothic Revival, with the ornament and feeling of the Classical and Italianate. It is hard to really quantify it, but the church looks like it could easily fit into the backdrop of a movie.
Built in 1873 by a congregation that was founded in 1854, the church cost $3,131.78.
It clearly was more heavily ornamented at one time, as classical pilasters can be seen on the belfry. But overall, the state of repair is excellent.
The half moon lunette lintels, made of carefully bent wood, are also a nice touch. Is there a balcony around the interior? I’m not sure.
There is a minister’s office or rectangular apse out the back of the main church.
This was clearly a solid, well-to-do community, as the cemetery spreading out to the south is dotted with prominent gravestones and even two mausolea.
The rich farmland spreading out in all directions shows hardly a sign of human habitation among the fields.
Nearby, to the west down the road is what is clearly a schoolhouse, possibly built by the church but certainly the same architect.