Zion History

Welcome to The Inn at Market Square, a proud member of the Independent Boutique Collection, IBCHotels.com. Located in beautiful downtown Zion, Illinois, our city was founded in 1901 by the world renowned healer, author and orator, Dr. John Alexander Dowie, who came to America from Edinburgh, Scotland to build a religious utopia.

DowieBelieving in racial equality, self-sufficiency and commitment to the literal translation of the Old Testament, thousands of his devoted followers settled here along the shores of Lake Michigan. Families camped in Shiloh Park’s Tent City until permanent homes could be built, while single males were housed at the original Zion Hotel (Elijah Hospice). All property within the city was owned by the Christian Catholic Church; only confirmed male members of the congregation were granted leases. The use of ‘catholic’ refers to a universal, non-denominational ministry, not traditional Catholicism associated with Rome.

 Today the founding church is known simply as Christ Community Church and located at 2500 Dowie Memorial Circle, a few blocks from our hotel. Architecturally, it is an upturned ark, designed in preparation of another biblical flood. Still considered the largest church organization in the city, visitors are encouraged. We also offer worship services here at the hotel in our Adeline Banquet Room every Sunday at noon. All faiths are welcome.

Dedicated to God and family, the original founders sought to remove themselves from the temptations of the outside world. They established their own industries, including the Zion Cookie Factory which produced the Zion Fig Bar, a nod to the fruit considered a staple of early Christian diets. The cookie, similar to the Fig Newton, is still in production today and available in our charming gift shop and cafe, Callie’s In The Square, located just off of the hotel lobby. Callie’s is a derivative of ‘Caledonia’, the early Roman word for Scotland.

Other early works included the Zion Lace Factory, which was eventually acquired by Marshall Field exclusively for his Chicago stores. Zion remained among the world’s leading lace manufacturers until the 1960’s. As with all Zion businesses, a tithe was automatically, and willingly, deducted from all wages to support the work of the founding church.

 In keeping to Old Testament law, Zion prohibited tobacco, gaming, doctors, revealing fashions, pork, bottom dwelling fish such as catfish or shrimp, private land ownership, elected officials and alcohol. In fact, restaurants only served beef bacon until 2002 and Prohibition remained in effect for Zion until a referendum lifted the restriction in 2005.  

Today, Zion still attracts visitors and new residents who seek the biblical tenants of faith, family and meaningful work. If you listen carefully from your room, you will hear the chimes of the original Carillon bells softly played five times a day as a reminder to reflect on the day’s blessings with a moment of prayer.

Our city streets echo the names of Elisha, Horeb and Galilee. Sheridan Road and 25th Street may have modern names, but they are historically recorded as Elijah and Shiloh, respectively. Yes, we were the inspiration for the Flat Earth Society. As subscribers to the literal interpretation of passages running from Isaiah to Revelations, our schools taught that scriptural references to “the four corners of the Earth” meant the world must be flat…it’s ok, we just smile, too.

Zion was the second planned city in the United States; the first being Washington, D.C. Our map mirrors the British Union Jack flag with the boulevards forming the St. Andrews and Christian crosses. The founding church is located in the circle at the very center.

During your stay with us, take time to look at the photos on display in our rooms and lobby. They feature buildings and places you can still see today – Esther’s Well, Dowie’s mansion and gravesite, Bishop’s Row, the Lace Factory, the founding church and the Dome that marks the site of the original Zion Hotel.

Considered the second largest wooden structure in the world, several developers attempted to restore the Zion Hotel. Among them, the owners of the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island and a French cooking school. However, since both projects would have required the use or sale of alcohol when completed, the City soundly rejected the ideas. Sadly in 1979, when no solution could be achieved, the abandoned building was razed rather than allow it to be defiled.

The Inn at Market Square was designed to honor the original Zion Hotel. Our lobby atrium has seven sections marking the seven days of creation recorded in Genesis. Take note of the window mullions which are symbolic of the Christian cross. Other examples can be found in sections of our carpeting, hallways and artwork.  

Our address was specifically chosen from the Book of Acts, Chapter 27, Verse 23:

       “And there stood by me through the night, the Angel of the Lord, saying, ‘Fear not’.”

The meeting rooms here at Market Square are the Alexander, the Aberdeen and the Adeline, each in playful token of our colorful past. Our logo of cascading leaves represents the Leaves of Healing, the famous publication of Dr. Dowie’s sermons and lectures. Original copies of these books occasionally surface and are considered quite valuable. They were printed just east of the hotel at Shiloh and Deborah.

For more information on the well documented life of Dr. Dowie and the development of our community, please visit the Zion Historical Society at 1300 Shiloh Boulevard, located inside the Dowie Mansion. Open year round Monday through Friday from 9 am to 3 pm, with self-guided tours. During summer months, the free CTCA Trolley History Tour leaves the hospital every Wednesday at 10:30 am.

We welcome the opportunity to make your stay memorable and positive. Please reach out to our Front Desk Team should you have any special request or need during your time with us. If you are here as a guest, caregiver or employee with Cancer Treatment Centers of America and need to change or extend your reservation, please contact CTCA Outpatient Accommodations directly at 1-866-751-2822 and they will notify our staff on your behalf.As our heritage will attest, Zion has always been a mecca for healing and grace. Therefore, allow me to extend our historical blessing and simply say, “Peace be to thee, Friend.”

J. Delaine Rogers, CEcD

Managing Dir., Market Square Hospitality, LLC

Here is a list of some of the existing streets in Zion and the significance of their names.

Damascus: It was here that the Lord spoke to Saul who had been persecuting His believers. Saul was blinded by God and remained sightless for 3 days in Damascus until he accepted Jesus as the Son of God. (Acts 9:1-25)

Deborah: Deborah was an ancient prophetess who judged Israel when it was held by the oppressive King Jabin of Canaan. She helped arrange the battle on Mt. Tabor at which Israel was returned to the followers of the Lord. (Judges 4:1-16)

Ebenezer: The ancient “stone of help”, so named by Samuel after the Lord helped the Israelites defeat the Philistines in the battle between Mizpah and Shen. (I Samuel 7:12)

Elizabeth: The wife of Zechariah, she was the mother of John the Baptist and a cousin of the Virgin Mary. (Luke 1:5)

Elim: As Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they passed through the Wilderness of Shur where there was no water. Three days later they reached Marah, where the bitterness of the water made it undrinkable. Finally they came to Elim “where there were 12 fresh springs of water and 70 palm trees and they encamped there by the water”. (Exodus 15:27)

Elijah: (Sheridan Road) The Prophet Elijah was known throughout the Biblical land for his wonders performed for the Lord. (I Kings: 1:15)

Elisha: He was Elijah’s successor. Elisha witnessed the ascension of Elijah into heaven, and also wrought many miracles. (I Kings 19:16)

Emmaus: Emmaus was the village where the Lord revealed Himself to two of his disciples on the afternoon of His resurrection. It was “about three score furlongs from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24: 13-32)

Enoch: Enoch was the father of Methuselah, and lived to the age of 365. “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5: 21-25)

Eshcol: The alley of Eshcol, in the land of Canaan, was searched by two of Moses’ “spies”, Joshua and Caleb, who brought grapes from the valley to Moses as evidence that “it is a good land which the Lord our God gives to us.” (Deuteronomy 1:24)

Ezekiel: A priest to whom “the word” of the Lord came expressly, and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.”

Ezra: Ezra was a scribe “skilled in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given him. He had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” (Ezra 7:1-10)

Gabriel: The “Angel Gabriel” was the Lord’s messenger, sent to Daniel to explain his visions, to Zacharias to announce the future birth of John the Baptist, and to the Virgin Mary. (Luke 1:19)

Galilee: Jesus was taken to Galilee as a child after Joseph, “being warned in a dream, withdrew to the district of Galilee.” As told in the Book of Matthew, Jesus “went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.” (Matthew 2:20-23; Matthew 4:23)

Gideon: Gideon was the fifth judge of Israel and by him God delivered Israel from the Midianities. Gideon’s force of 300 men was chosen by God from a group of 10,000 by separating the men who “lapped the water with their tongues” from those who knelt down to the water to drink. (Judges 7:4-8)

Gilboa: King Saul and his sons were killed in battle with the Philistines on Mt. Gilboa. After seeing his sons killed and being wounded himself, Saul “fell upon his sword” rather than let the Philistines “Thrust me through and make sport of me.” (I Samuel 31:1-6)

Gilead: Jacob and Laban made a covenant between themselves and before God by setting up a pile of stones called Gilead, pledging, “This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar for me, for harm.” (Genesis 31:44-53)

Hebron: “Then Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb, Hebron, the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. So Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb, the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord.” (Joshua 14:13-15)

Hermon: This snow-capped mountain can be seen from all the heights of Palestine. “Behold how good and pleasant it is, when brothers dwell in unity!” It is like the dew of Hermon which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing life for evermore.” (Psalms 133)

Horeb: Mount Horeb was also called Sinai. Here God delivered the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 17:6)

Jethro: “When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel, he said, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods.” (Exodus 18:1-11)

Joanna: Joanna was one of the faithful women who ministered to Jesus while he lived and brought spices to his tomb. (Luke 24:1-10)

Joppa: Joppa was the principal seaport of Judea. It was there that Peter raised Dorc from the dead and received a vision which led him to understand that Salvation was for Gentiles as well as for the Jews. (Jonah 1:3, Acts 10:1-22)

Lydia: Lydia was Paul’s first European convert. “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul.” (Acts 16:14)

Bethlehem Blvd. (Rt. 173): The birthplace of Jesus. “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the King.” (Matthew 2:1)

Salem Blvd.: Salem means peace. John the Baptist was baptized “near to Salem, because there was much water there.” (John 3:22-24)

Kedron Blvd.: “A brook near Jerusalem over which Jesus crossed to enter the Garden of Gethsemane.” (John 18:1)

Carmel Blvd.: Mount Carmel was the site of Elijah’s challenge to Ahab. “And Elijah said, ‘As the Lord of Hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today. . . So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel, and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel.’” (I Kings, Ch. 18)

Shiloh Blvd.: Shiloh refers to the Messiah. “Until Shiloh comes; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Genesis 49:10)

Bethesda Blvd.: A pool. “Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool called Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. At the pool of Bethesda, Jesus held the impotent man who had been infirm for thirty eight years, and Jesus healed him.” | (John 5:2)

Bethel Blvd.: “And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him Bethel.” (Genesis 35:15)

Lebanon Blvd.: A mountain range forms the northern limit of the Holy Land, and is thickly grown with firs and cedar trees. Lumber from the forests of Lebanon was used to build Solomon’s temple. (I Kings 5:6-10)