Historic Methodist Campground in Des Plaines, Illinois

Photo by Michael Kleen

In 1860, members of the Methodist Church began having tent meetings along the Des Plaines River, and after a few years erected hardstand buildings at the site. The small spiritual community grew to 35 acres and contained a large tabernacle, approximately 100 cottages, 30-room hotel, cafe, and even a swimming pool.

I have fond memories of the old Methodist Campground at 1900 E. Algonquin Road. My dad and I would ride bikes along the Forest Preserve trail and venture into the campground for an ice cream or cold soda at the cafe. The camp sometimes hosted Civil War reenactments. I spent two summers at day camp there, and swam in the pool (which was open to the public) on hot days.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Unfortunately, severe flooding in recent years made renting the cabins undesirable, and only 20-30 are currently occupied. Water sometimes rose to the second floor. Heritage House, a cabin built in 1870, is sagging and appears in danger of collapse.

The camp’s core, around the snack shop and old hotel, appears well maintained, but it’s sad to see the state of disrepair in the rest of the camp. A New Age group plans to revitalize the location, but when I passed through last summer, it didn’t look like much progress had been made.

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Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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