WOOD RIVER — A historic chapel in town has received a much-needed makeover, thanks to the Bucket Brigade and Dream Home Realtors.
While many have driven down East Lorena countless times, it may be easy to overlook the building on the corner that has been there since 1916, quietly becoming a Wood River landmark.
Built as the first Lutheran Church of Wood River, it was purchased by the Wood River Heritage Council in 1998 to keep it from being demolished and went through an extensive renovation.
It is still used today as a quaint wedding chapel, where couples can rent the church for their ceremonies and rehearsals. It can also be used for religious services, recitals, renewal of vows and other ceremonies and can hold up to 50 guests.
In April, the chapel was once again in need of repairs and a new coat of paint. The council began raising money to get the work completed and on April 22, a gentleman from the committee walked into Dream Home Realtors and asked if he could place a flier asking the community for help.
“On April 22, the guy came in from the chapel and the next day, I was supposed to go to a Bucket Brigade meeting to pick out a house to paint,” Sherrie Gilleland says. “If he had come in a day later, we couldn’t have done it.”
Sherrie and her husband, Brad, have been involved with the Bucket Brigade, where homeowners who cannot maintain their homes may be offered assistance through volunteer teams. Typically, they have strict rules on who may apply and who can be assisted, so Sherrie and Brad weren’t sure they would be allowed to help the chapel.
“It would take over $20,000 to renovate because it had rotting boards and needed painted,” Sherrie said. “Pride Inc., over the Bucket Brigade, has one particular guideline for height, and the chapel’s steeple was way over the height guideline. I called and asked if we could make any exception at all, and they approved it.”
It seems maybe there was someone up above looking out for the building.
“We had to rent a lift to get up there to the steeple and without my husband, we couldn’t have managed it,” Sherrie says.
The couple spent weeks scraping and replacing the boards. Volunteers from Labor Local 338 helped with scraping, and employees at Dream Home Realtors chipped in to help with the painting.
The only cost to the Heritage Council turned out to be rental of a lift and the lumber.
“We just thought it was really cool to restore a historic chapel and help them save quite a bit of money so they could use their funds to do other things for the community,” Sherrie says.
The four-week project saw several delays because of inclement weather, but the end result, all agree, was worth the effort.
“We are so thankful for these wonderful volunteers,” Jean Bruce of Wood River says. “It was a huge undertaking. The chapel looks beautiful and will now be ready for its 100th anniversary next year.”