Utah couple buys Hale Church, envision community maker space

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Peoria church more than a century old is under new ownership.

The city started a demolition process for Hale Church, located at the intersection of Main and High streets, as parts of the building crumbled onto the sidewalk below. The building is boarded up and the sidewalk is blocked off with orange cones because city leaders said parts of the facade started crumbling and falling off.

Now, Utah couple Michelle and Colby Carpenter are buying the property and said they have big plans.

“When we got it, we really didn’t know that it was such a gem to the community,” said Michelle. “We just thought it was amazing and we loved it.”

Michelle said they saw the church in an online auction.

Hale Memorial Church in Peoria is located at the intersection of Main Street and High Street.

“We’ve been thinking that it’d be fun to repurpose an old church,” she said.

The couple won the auction, sight unseen.

“We bought it for $22,000 [and] have about $50,000 more that we can put into it,” said Carpenter.

It’s a passion project for the pair who envision a STEAM makers space, which combines both her and her husband’s interests. But, some in Peoria said Hale Church is in bad shape and needs extensive repairs, which come with a hefty price tag.

“It’s probably $2.5-3.5 million, so I hope the folks in Utah that haven’t seen it understand the scale of that project,” said developer and founder of the KDB Group, Kim Blickenstaff.

Blickenstaff said he had his eyes on Hale Church and was in the process of getting it appraised.

“The agreement was he (someone from the company that owned the building) would donate to us if we set up a tax qualified organization, which we were doing, and he would get the appraised value,” said Blickenstaff.

It’s now out of his hands, but Blickenstaff hopes the new owners can restore the property.

“If it’s done to our standards, I don’t care who does it, frankly,” said Blickenstaff.

He welcomes more restoration in Peoria.

“If they can do that, the more the merrier,” said Blickenstaff.

The Carpenters said with they’ll need community support and grants to make their vision possible.

“It’s easy to get lost in your doubts, but when you have faith and confidence for something as a whole, great things can happen,” said Carpenter.

The Carpenters will be visiting Peoria soon and seeing the church in person for the first time.

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