Bishop Hill Colony Church: 2024 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois


Bishop Hill, Henry County

Year built




Current owner

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

(Photo credit: Bishop Hill Heritage Association)

Why is this place important?

The Village of Bishop Hill is one of the earliest settlements of Swedish immigrants in the United States, established as a utopian religious community by Eric Janson and his followers in 1846 during the first wave of mass Swedish immigration. Many of the village’s original buildings have survived, including Colony Church (1848), Ox Boys’ Dormitory (1850) and Bjorklund Hotel (late 1850s). The area of the original settlement is a National Historic Landmark and is also designated as a State Historic site, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The Colony Church is central to the history and current-day economy of Bishop Hill.

(Photo credit: Bishop Hill Heritage Association)


Previous State of Illinois leadership did not allocate sufficient investment in the historic buildings at Bishop Hill to address ongoing maintenance needs. Consequently, deferred maintenance on the historic structures has led to an array of needed repairs, some of which are urgent. Each of the buildings that comprise the State Historic Site needs attention, but the Colony Church is in the most dire need. There are a variety of repairs required to ensure the future of the Colony Church, including, but not limited to a new roof, siding replacement, paint stripping and new paint, foundation work, replacement of rotting wood, new gutters and plaster repair.

(Photo credit: Bishop Hill Heritage Association)


IDNR must be provided with the financial and human resources necessary for required maintenance of the sites it is responsible for managing, like Bishop Hill. As with the Shawneetown Bank and the Buel House — also included on the 2024 Most Endangered list — IDNR could address the urgently needed repairs to the Colony Church given adequate funding and personnel. As a long-term solution, once emergency repairs are made, IDNR could partner with local organizations, such as the Bishop Hill Heritage Association, to help with ongoing maintenance of this historic structure.

(Photo credit: Bishop Hill Heritage Association)


Connect with the Bishop Hill Heritage Association to see how you can join the expansive network working to preserve Bishop Hill’s rich history. Email or visit to express your interest and offer assistance.

  • Contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to voice support for preserving state-owned historic properties at
  • Contact your state representative and senator to encourage them to prioritize additional funding for State Historic Sites within IDNR. You can find your representative and senator at

(Photo credit: Bishop Hill Heritage Association)

Todd DeDecker

Administrator of the Bishop Hill Heritage Association

“Bishop Hill was started as a communal religious colony in 1846. The Colony Church was, and still is, the heart and soul of this community. It is the most historically significant building in the village.  Its continued preservation is vital to preserving the history and legacy of the Bishop Hill Colony.”


(Photo credit: PlaceEconomics)

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