The Old Towne Grove Chapel is located in the village of Groveland, Central Illinois. It is patterned after a chapel on the historic register near Chicago and is similar in architecture to early 1800’s churches in our area. The chapel was built to one-quarter scale of traditional churches on the prairie. The small chapel is surrounded by crabapple, pussy willow, fruit and gingko trees. A towering blue spruce is just out of camera shot to the right.
Entering the small foyer, the eye is drawn to the antique stained glass window from a European church. The altar is hand-crafted walnut and crowned by a cross also crafted by the chapel’s builder and owner Erwin E. Towne. An antique oak pump organ to the right of the altar has been restored and when played, fills the space with nostalgic chords that remind visitors of childhood Christmas programs and summer revivals.
Five walnut pews sit on either side of the center aisle. Each pew holds two to three people. The two chapels on the property are popular for weddings; over two thousand couples have been married in the small chapel, the larger Garden Grove Chapel and chapel gardens.
The chapel is privately owned and maintained. As a family we assist my father, Erwin Towne, with care of the grounds. For Christmas, a wrought iron cluster of pillar candles sits in a wreath of greens and poinsettias on the alter. Two large poinsettia wreaths flank the window and fresh greens top the organ. Garland wraps around the porch pillars accented by a decorated vine wreath on either side. A boxwood wreath with tartan ribbon and lights hangs from the lamp post next to the bell in the garden. White lights decorate the crab apple tree next to the chapel.
Old Towne Grove Chapel is open to the public for visits. To book the chapels for groups, weddings or events, contact manager Dirk Clemens – 309-264-8479. Add a visit to the tiny chapel in Groveland to your holiday list and experience an atmosphere of what Christmas is all about.