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Abbey History   A Former Serene Monastery and Elegant Hotel

Generally   National Register of Historic Places

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 United States.  

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 the man.  

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 shoes.”  

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 appearance.)  

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 monastery.  

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 people.  

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!