Volunteers work to preserve 115-year-old chapel

Friends of Oak Hill Chapel look for volunteers, donations
Volunteers work to preserve 115-year-old chapel
Oak Hill Chapel

Volunteers work to preserve 115-year-old chapel

Janesville volunteers are looking to give a 115-year-old chapel a much needed face-lift.

City leaders said it will take several hundred thousand dollars to completely restore the Oak Hill Chapel, so last fall they were making plans to tear it down.

The city began operating and maintaining the cemetery in 2008 when the Oakhill Cemetery Association turned their operations and funds over to the city. Now Friends of Oak Hill Chapel have raised $30,000 of the $40,000 they need to begin breathing new life into the building.

City leaders gave the group until February to present a plan to save the chapel.

Glass artist Richard Snyder is a part of the Friends of Oak Hill Chapel and is volunteering his talents to help. The window he’s restoring will go back to the chapel inside Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville.

Snyder said he grew up near the chapel, admiring its windows. “Those beautiful windows have been there throughout my life, looking at them and now I have the chance to work on them.”

Jim Crittenden, Jr., also with Friends of Oak Hill Chapel, said the chapel hasn’t been renovated since the late 60s, early 70s.

In the chapel’s basement they discovered some of the original windows, as well as the original chairs made in Janesville.

“This holds the prayers of generations of people,” Crittenden said.

The chapel hasn’t gotten a lot of use lately — only a handful of services have been held there in the last five years. Crittenden said the Friends of Oak Hill Chapel hope to change that.

“This is a community chapel. It’s for all faiths, and it’s a sacred place and every community should have its sacred places,” Crittenden said.

He said there are plans to make it handicap accessible once they start working on the exterior, including a new roof and a lot of masonry work.

Snyder is one of dozens donating their talents to what he calls a historic project.

“They’ve torn down a lot of buildings here in Janesville, being a chapel that has that history and the beautiful windows. It just needs to be restored for the future generations,” Snyder said.

The volunteers trying to save the building are hosting an open house Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the chapel at 1725 N. Washington St. They will be collecting donations and are looking for people willing to donate their time.