Nazareth House retreat center razed; new complex to be completed by 2020

Nazareth House near Henry, built in 1962 and known for many years as King's House, has been razed and a new diocesan retreat center will be constructed on the site near Henry.

Construction is expected to begin next spring on a new Nazareth House retreat center complex near Henry.

The former Nazareth House — built in 1962 on a bluff overlooking the Illinois River northeast of Henry and for many years known as King’s House — has been razed, according to an update given to priests of the Diocese of Peoria during their Assembly Days on Oct. 23.

“There were no problems with the demolition,” said Andrew Hagemann, director of property and facility management for the Diocese of Peoria. “Everything’s gone. We will be starting from scratch.”

The new Nazareth House will include a four-story building containing 100 sleeping rooms, all with queen-size beds, individual temperature controls, and larger bathrooms than in the former facility. Other features described by Hagemann include a prominent chapel  (“It will be what you see first,” he told the priests), a conference center designed to seat 125, a two-story entry and gathering area, dining and kitchen facilities, and smaller meeting spaces.

Design work continues, but Hagemann said the property will likely have “a northwoods lodge/cabin” feel.

The pond on the property will be enlarged and made more accessible, the parking lot expanded, and some trees will be removed to provide guests a view of the Illinois River below. The “Solitude of the Sacred Heart” — a small hermitage built on the property in 2011 offering individuals a quiet place for prayer and reflection — is not affected by the demolition or construction plans.

Members of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the religious community that has operated Nazareth House since 2009, will continue to maintain the property and have living quarters in the dormitory housing area.

Hagemann said the new Nazareth House is expected to be completed by late spring or early summer of 2020.

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