Motivated by childhood memories and a desire to honor his parents, the Guest’s began restoration efforts soon after the purchase was finalized. The restoration was not an easy one. Bulging walls had to be pulled back together with the insertion of steel cables, and the toll taken by time on the church interior had to be erased. With painstaking devotion, Guest oversaw the restoration of the beautiful stained-glass windows, pews, light fixtures, doors and even the original church bell. When finished, the little church was named the Opal Guest Chapel. Today, the restored building stands as tribute to the town’s heritage and faith and is regularly put to use for public meetings, weddings, funerals and baccalaureates.
Our next stop in Strawn will be the Strawn Historical Museum. The small one-room tile structure housing the museum was built 60 years ago to provide housing for the local Boy Scout troop and was originally called “The Boy Scout Hut.” Since the land had been granted to the Boy Scouts by the city, it was stipulated that in the event that scouts ever stopped using the facility, ownership of the building would revert to the city.
Eventually, the local scout troop was discontinued and in February 2001, a group of interested citizens met in the building and officially renamed it the “Strawn Historical Museum.” Later, a memorial park was created on the museum grounds as further tribute to the town’s founders, pioneers and past and present citizens.
With a purpose of protecting, preserving and sharing Strawn’s history, the little building now houses a varied collection of photos, newspapers, furnishings and artifacts and memorabilia from various homes and businesses in the area – donations. Located just south of City Hall, the museum is open for a few hours every day of the week except Monday.