Bishop Hill Heritage Association Endowment


The Bishop Hill Heritage Association was established in 1962 by a small group of residents descended from Bishop Hill Colony. Founder, Erik Jansson and his followers, emigrated from Sweden in hopes of finding a harmonious place to live to express their beliefs, which were in conflict with the government and the state Lutheran Church of Sweden.  The Heritage Association was organized to preserve and protect buildings associated with the Bishop Hill Colony (1846-1861).

The razing of the Colony Bakery/Brewery in 1961 by the village of Bishop Hill was the catalyst to the formation of this group.  In 1963, the association acquired the Steeple Building. By 1987 the association had acquired and restored numerous original buildings, which now house museums, shops and craft persons.

A zoning ordinance initiated by the BHHA to protect the architectural integrity of historical structures within a “historical district” is the most stringent in Illinois.  This opened the doors to preservation on a community wide basis bringing in carpenters, artisans and many new residents.  There were more than 125,000 visitors in 2002 which had risen from 500 in the first year of the association. 

Adopted in 1970 the mission of the Bishop Hill Heritage Association is:

  • Retain Bishop Hill as a living community and to do everything within its resources to enhance its development as a historic site and a desirable place to live through maintaining a natural environment.
  • Encourage all efforts to restore and maintain historic properties and cultural heritage.
  • Develop within our young people a sense of pride in their communities past, present and future.
  • Develop and maintain a research library of material related to the area and make this available for study.
  • Maintain and encourage an active interchange of ideas with organizations of common interests and goals. 
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