Bethel Schoolhouse

Bethel School at Friends Creek Conservation Area

Step back in time in a one room country school. Historic Bethel School is part of the Friends Creek Conservation Area. Bethel School at Friends Creek Conservation Area is 4.5 miles from Argenta, IL.

Bethel School is open for free tours from 1:00pm to 4:00pm on the first Saturday of each month from May through October. Programs may be scheduled by appointment at other times for students or various groups. Call (217)423-7708 for further information.

The History of Bethel School

The name “Bethel School” has a long history in Friends Creek Township. The first Bethel School built in the 1850’s in Section 7 of the township was a log structure. By 1890 with a donation of land from John Brown in Section 8 the current Bethel School was built.

For nearly 56 years, the school served the neighborhood students until 1946 when it was closed. As part of a statewide trend in the 1940’s and 1950’s most one room schools in Macon County were closed and the students transferred to larger schools. Purchased by Sam Kohler the Bethel School was moved to his property about a mile south to be used as an implement and tool shed.

Bethel School ClassWith the purchase of his property in 1969 by the Macon County Conservation District the school was moved yet again in 1982 a short distance to its present location as part of Friends Creek Conservation Area. From 1982 to 1985 with help from several donors including the Winings Trust along with dedicated volunteers and staff it was restored to its current appearance.

Getting to Bethel School

Bethel School is accessible by three different routes from Decatur. First, turn off U.S. Highway 51 and go east for 9 miles along County Highway 18 (also known as East School Road) then turn north onto Friends Creek Park Road. You can also take Illinois Highway 48 passing through Oreana and Argenta and then turning north onto Friends Creek Park Road. It is also accessible from Interstate 72. Take Exit 156 and follow the signs leading to the Friends Creek Park Road.