The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is undoubtedly the most unusual museum in the Quad-Cities.
Located in the lobby of what was the former First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Rock Island, its exhibit space is devoted solely to documents and manuscripts owned by David Karpeles of California, a mathematician who made his fortune in real estate and who likes to collect.
Admission is free, but there are days when the museum has no visitors.
Members of the Rock Island Preservation Society aim to change that on Tuesday, when they invite the public to a free, 100th anniversary party at the museum with cake and punch, a program and a tour of the church’s sanctuary that features an intricate, multi-colored stained glass dome.
The party celebrates the opening of the church in 1915 and is intended to thank David and Marsha Karpeles who — out of the blue — bought the vacant building in 2011, thereby saving it from further deterioration.
The congregation of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, was organized in 1896. The present building, constructed of Indiana Bedford limestone, was designed by William C. Jones of Chicago, based on a northern Italian summer house by Andrea Palladio.
The church served its congregation until it was sold in 1994. Efforts to reuse it through the years did not fully materialize, and it had been vacant for about 10 years when Karpeles purchased it.