CLINTON, Iowa – A brewery/restaurant operation in Illinois is expanding to Clinton, where it will pump new life into at least two former church buildings. The Great Revivalist Lab in Henry County’s Geneseo is now converting the old buildings into Clinton’s first brewery. When it is open for business – perhaps later this year – […]
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CLINTON, Iowa – A brewery/restaurant operation in Illinois is expanding to Clinton, where it will pump new life into at least two former church buildings.
The Great Revivalist Lab in Henry County’s Geneseo is now converting the old buildings into Clinton’s first brewery. When it is open for business – perhaps later this year – it will be known as the Great Revivalist Brewery.
Here’s a look at brewery operation and the old churches it is updating:
- The historic former Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 238 Fourth Ave. South will become the brewery and restaurant. The building also was once the St. John’s Episcopal Church. Demolition work began on the building in July. Beer production could launch in the building in late fall or winter, Great Revivalist leaders said.
- A former church at 303-307 S. Third St., also once a Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, will become a storage facility. Once the work is complete, this building will not be open to the public.
- It’s also possible Great Revivalist will buy a third former church in Clinton to convert it into a meeting space. Negotiations for the sale of that privately-owned property were still in progress in late July, according to City of Clinton officials.
“The attraction of Great Revivalist Brewery to Clinton is a slam dunk for all involved,” said Andy Sokolovich, president and CEO of Grow Clinton. “Creating jobs and adding tax revenue is always the goal when recruiting a new company to our community.”
Clinton Mayor Scott Maddasion added: “Our community has been eager to add a brewery in town and this partnership is truly a match made in Heaven. … The remodel and revitalization of the historic churches in our community to house their business will not only add value to our downtown, but help preserve the history we hold so dear in Clinton.”
Scott Lernert, chief operating officer and master brewer at the Great Revivalist Brew Lab; and Rachel Heise, general manager, recently gave the QCBJ a tour of the former Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. During the visit in late July, a crew of about 10 workers was busy removing old church pews from the nave, or main worship space portion of the church. The demolition part of the project was expected to be done by early August, said Ms. Heise.
“I look at this space as a great expansion to our brewery. … This gives us the space to do an expansion the right way,” Mr. Lernert added.
Even though the expansion calls for the pews removal, much of the church’s interior will remain in place. Their aim is to preserve as much as possible, including the stained-glass windows, the Italian tile fresco at the front of the church, and there are even plans to build new tables from the wood taken from the pews.
Mr. Lernert said those moves are part of the company’s goal of respecting the history of the former church building which goes back to when construction began in 1898. Construction continued with additions in the 1940s and the 1970s.
During the tour, Mr. Lernert pointed out some of the building’s features including the uncovering of a stained glass window that had been hidden behind a wall during one of those building additions. “It’s so exciting to bring that back out, and I get to brew in this place,” he added.
The Great Revivalist Lab in Geneseo offers a wide variety in the brew department including 24 taps with an “experimental edge.” The restaurant offers woodfire pizza, mango-heat poutine, Mahi Street Tacos and much more, according to its website.
Great Revivalist officials say the drink and food menus for their Clinton operation will be lively, but those menus have not been finalized. In fact, there are still several unanswered questions about the project. It’s still not known exactly when the new Clinton business will open or how many employees it will have. And the final cost of the Clinton brewery project is not being released, but Mr. Lernert called it “astronomical.”
In the coming weeks, some of those unanswered questions might be answered, but expect changes.
“This is all a work in progress. … Things are subject to change every second of the day,” added Ms. Heise.