The building remained unoccupied and neglected until it was purchased by the First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake in 1977. The annex portion of the structure was renovated by thousands of hours of volunteer work. The Church named the facility “Lakeside Center” and operated it as a community activities center, hosting Friendship House Day Care Center for children, church offices, meeting rooms, reception hall, and retreat facilities.
In 1979 the church held the 1st Ice Cream Social. This grew over the years and become what is known today as the extremely popular Lakeside Festival.
On January 30, 2000, the members of the First Congregational Church voted to sell the property in order to raise funds for a necessary addition to the church building on Pierson Street. After several sales attempts and failures, the future looked grim for Crystal Lake’s historic Dole Mansion.