For nearly 80 years, The Abbey served as a monastery for solemn prayer
and contemplation. After a major renovation effort, The Abbey operated
as a luxurious, AAA-Four Diamond-rated boutique hotel for 16 years.
Today, The Abbey is among the finest addiction treatment centers in the
The Regina Coeli Monastery
The Abbey was constructed in 1914-17 as a monastery for the Sisters of
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, usually referred to as the “Carmelite
Sisters.” These Sisters came to Davenport in 1911 from Baltimore,
Maryland. They settled at the intersection of 15th and Brady Streets in
Davenport, Iowa (about 10 miles from our current Bettendorf location),
and began construction of a monastery there. They built the main chapel
of this monastery on that site in 1912. When they decided to move to
this site in 1914, however, they dismantled the chapel brick by brick
and rebuilt it on this spot! Consequently, the chapel cornerstone has
both dates – 1912 and 1917 – indicating that the chapel was built twice.
The Sisters named their monastery “Regina Coeli Monastery” – Latin for
“Queen of Heaven.” The Monastery was built to accommodate 21 Sisters,
plus additional rooms for “novices,” or beginners.
Once a young woman entered this Monastery, she was never supposed to
leave. The Sisters never looked upon the face of an outsider, except
through a metal screen covered by a black cloth. Even here in the
chapel, the Sisters attended Mass on the left side of the altar, behind
a metal screen and black cloth. For them to receive communion, the
priest – who never saw them – just put the host through a small door in
the screen with the tips of his fingers.
No one was permitted to see the Sisters. If a tradesman came to the door
to deliver food or goods, he just put his parcels on a turntable called
a “turn,” which the Sisters revolved to get the parcel without seeing
Men were never allowed in the cloistered portions of the Monastery. They
were allowed in the main chapel on certain occasions, and doctors and
dentists treated the Sisters in the infirmary on the floor below, behind
the chapel building.
Many Sisters were buried in this building, in the crypt beneath the
altar. (This room is now the main kitchen.) The bodies of the deceased
Sisters were removed in 1975, when the Carmelites left this monastery.
Father Nagle, who was helpful to the Sisters in establishing the
monastery, was originally buried in the side chapel (below where the
marble altar now sits), but his body was removed many years ago.
The Sisters led very severe lives. Their monastery was beautiful on the
outside, but the interior was stark and undecorated. They slept on
boards covered with straw. They had no rugs, curtains or wallpaper. They
bathed in their rooms, or “cells,” with a pitcher and bowl. Their only
clothing was their habit, and they did not wear shoes. In fact, they
were called “Discalced Carmelites” – “discalced” is Latin for “without
The monastery originally had 116 rooms. The Sisters lived in very tiny
“cells” about 8’ by 9’ on the top floor. In addition to the cells, there
were rooms for food preparation and eating, assembly, work and prayer,
recreation and practical needs – medical facilities, a vault, and the
crypt where deceased Sisters were buried. The Sisters’ work was making
altar breads – the “hosts” for communion – and sewing vestments. The
Sisters spent most of their time in prayer. They received their
foodstuffs through the “turn” in the northwest corner room of the ground
floor, from suppliers who never saw them.
The monastery is a Romanesque structure, of gold-mottled brick, with
cream-white Bedford stone trimmings. It is 119 feet long, in double
cruciform (cross) form. It is surrounded by a brick wall for privacy.
There are two beautiful angels, one holding a lamp and the other a
trumpet, on the roof of the chapel entrance. The stained glass windows
in the chapel portray Carmelite saints, or scenes which are the subject
of a Carmelite meditation.
Be sure to visit the museum room on the third floor. This room has been
maintained in its original size and configuration. The Carmelite Sisters
have supplied authentic furniture and furnishings for this museum room.
As many as five of the original cells have been put together to make one
of the beautiful client rooms now available at The Abbey, A Premier
Addiction Treatment Center. (Note that the doors to the original cells
have been preserved on the hallway side, to maintain the monastery
The Abbey Hotel
The monastery – in failing repair – was purchased by the Lemon family in
1991. The Lemons completely renovated the facility into a luxurious
hotel, with 19 guest rooms, banquet and dining rooms, lobbies and
lounges. It features Italian marble in the lobbies and baths, crystal
chandeliers and new furnishings throughout. The hotel has all new
bathrooms and mechanical systems, and modern electrical, heating and air
conditioning; and sprinklers and fire protection systems have been
installed throughout the hotel. At the same time, the Lemon family has
preserved, to the maximum extent possible, the character of the
The Abbey Hotel provided luxury accommodations and specialized in
wedding receptions, banquets, business meetings, reunions and functions
of all kinds. As a hotel, The Abbey earned a Four-Diamond Award from
AAA; this rating was achieved in September 1993 and was maintained in
every subsequent evaluation.
In January 1994, the Regina Coeli Monastery was placed on the National
Register of Historic Places.
The Abbey was named one of the “54 Best Inns in America” by National
Geographic Traveler magazine (April 1999).
Joseph Lemon, Jr. has been honored as one of America’s “Top 75
Entrepreneurial Superstars” by Entrepreneur magazine (April 1997).
The Abbey was also awarded the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award.
In 2006, The Abbey received the Excellence in Commerce Award from the
Chamber of Commerce in recognition as the best business of the year.
In 1999, The Abbey expanded to Rock Island, Illinois, where the Lemon
family purchased and renovated the historic Rock Island Lines Train
Depot in Rock Island, Illinois (3031 5th Avenue, about 5 minutes away
from Bettendorf). Now named “Abbey Station,” with its 32’ ceilings,
Abbey Station is surely among the most elegant banquet facilities in the
United States. Abbey Station is able to accommodate groups up to 270
The Abbey: A Premier Addiction Treatment Center
The Lemons originally renovated the historic monastery as a public
service effort for the community – which was a tremendous success for
everyone in the Quad Cities.
After 16 years as a hotel, however, the Lemon family decided to embark
on a new mission to help those in need – in particular, those suffering
from addiction and related problems.
The Lemons are thrilled that this historic landmark, originally built
for solemn prayer and contemplation, has been reinvigorated in its
contribution to the local community and the nation at large with its
commitment to providing the highest caliber of treatment to its
tremendously important clients.
Today, The Abbey is truly a Premier Addiction Treatment Center – it is
among the finest such healing institutions not only in the Midwest, but
in the entire country!