Hidden Treasures: McKendree’s Archival Museum


Photo Credit: Kimberly Bennett
Photo Credit: Kimberly Bennett

Bothwell Chapel stands as an iconic piece on the McKendree campus, most often admired for its age and beauty.  When asking your everyday student what is located in the Chapel, most will reference the housing point of the oldest bell in the United States.  Upon further inspection within the chapel, one will discover there is a trove of historical wealth residing in the campus’ museum.

The museum is located across from Circuit Riders Hall on the north side of the Chapel’s first floor and can be identified by its white double doors.  Lining the walls of this historian’s paradise are a variety of pictures highlighting McKendree’s rich history.  These works range from portraits and photos of past presidents to political cartoons which once appeared in major area newspapers.  When walking through the museum, it is hard not to be drawn to the large glass cases placed about the room.  Behind the glass are relics collected through McKendree’s journey from a seminary to a university.

There are less obvious items in the room that are connected to McKendree’s history such as firearms from the 19th century, a spinning wheel and Hindu statues. Visitors were able to see all these items when it re-opened last April 24th for Academic Excellence Day.  The museum would have never been established if not for the Chapel Renovation Committee, deeming it a priority to the modifications of the chapel in 1960.  The museum would function if not for the hard work of Archivist Debbie Houk and her dedicated staff, including Assistant Archivist/intern, Timothy Rose, who has spent much time and effort to ensure the museum’s operation and timely re-opening.

I now challenge you to take a step back from McKendree’s great leap towards modernity and arrange a visit to one of McKendree’s true hidden treasures.

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