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Janesville community steps up to save historic chapel

Residents have been working since last year to save the Oak Hill Chapel

Janesville community steps up to save historic chapel

JANESVILLE, Wis. - It will cost more than $250,000 to restore the century old Janesville chapel, but the group trying to save the building said they have no doubt they will reach their goal with the overwhelming support of the community.

"This chapel was built for centuries to come," said Richard Snyder, the co-president of Friends of Oak Hill Chapel.

Janesville residents have been working together since last year to save the Oak Hill Chapel from being demolished. The city wanted to tear the building down in 2013 because of its deterioration and infrequent use by the public.

Instead of watching the building crumble volunteers started the group Friends of Oak Hill Chapel raising $40,000 in six months to save the building.

Now the group is in the first phase of restoring the historic 1899 chapel, but it's the community's continued support they said that has surprised them.

"People have stopped by as we have been up here working that want to give a hand and haul the rubbish away just out of the blue. I mean that's pretty well connected within the city," Snyder said.

Robert Sass' roofing company is lending a hand and despite taking time away from his company's other projects, Sass said it's a decision his team was happy to make.

"I mean these guys have family's to feed too. So for them to give up their entire weekend and donate all their time to do something like this, that's pretty cool," he said.

Sass and his company are not the only ones that have donated time and resources. Other construction crews donations of supplies and discounted material have helped save $48,000 dollars in restoration cost. It's a message of community support the group wants the city to see.

"It's also proving to the city that there are people in the community that do not want to see historical buildings removed. Even though it costs money, there are people willing to donate their time and effort to see that they don't disappear," project manager Gerald Jass said.

With other historic buildings in Janesville needing restoration, Jass hopes this project won't be his last.

"Hopefully this is just the beginning of many more buildings that we can save for the historical value of the city," he said.

The first phase costs $100,000. Friends of Oak Hill Chapel still need around $150,000 to complete the second phase of restoration.

Volunteers and donors can contact them through their Facebook page.

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