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The Little Historic Chapel That Could

 

 

If you don’t know bout this wonderfully historic chapel on the shoreline in Branford, Connecticut, you will after reading this. This is one of those gems that I love uncovering for you. I attended a wedding here a few years back and never forgot it, small, intimate, just lovely on a warm summer’s night. Quaint? please, the Pine Orchard Union Chapel is just that. Built in 1897 at a cost of about $1,500.00 is has stood the test of time. It is nestled right in the middle of a bucolic shoreline neighborhood and is run and loved and care for by the Pine Orchard Chapel committee. Greg Nobile of Greg Nobile Presents lives in it’s backyard, a neighbor who is passionate about the place and is helping to bring it very much alive again, getting word out here on Network Connecticut that it is available for all kinds of events.

Let’s just say you want ot have a wedding here, Okay, that’ll be $200.00 please, yep, just two hundred dollars and you get the run of the place from Friday through Sunday. Oh, and it comes with a piano too. So from May through October the chapel it is available, after that it gets pretty cold because the building has no heat. It was built as a house of worship for summer folk that lived in the area in the late 1800’s. The interior is a blank wooden canvas for however you want to paint it as you walk down the isle, Where in the world would you go to find such a place as this for $200.00?

Greg tells me that back in the 19th century, Frank and Henry Wallace, prestigious landowners dedicated land on Chapel Drive for the building of a non-denominational Chapel. Plans to erect a Chapel were approved on July 4, 1896; one year later, on July 4, 1897, it was completed. So are you picturing that 4th of July then, must have been a wonderful party over the establishment of this wonderful building.

The original cost for the building was $1,532, with an additional cost of $125 to paint the exterior, think about that for a moment in these time. Pine Orchard was a summer colony at the time, and the chapel was built solely for summer services, which took place at 4pm every Sunday. With no resident minister, area ministers came from neighboring towns to lead services.

According to town historian Jane Bouley, the chapel was closed for services in 1963, and the community stuck together in a move to save it. It is now known as the “wedding chapel” and has been a tradition for residents of Pine Orchard to make it their matrimonial setting.

Throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s a Pine Orchard family would host a student minister from the Yale Divinity School for the summer.  In exchange for running a day camp for children and delivering a weekly sermon, the student’s living expenses were covered.  Since that time, the Chapel is now used almost exclusively for weddings and couples who may that $200.00 well that goes to help maintain the grounds of the 115-year-old building.

In 2000 the chapel found its way onto the National Historic Register. Greg and I walked back behind the later and found a hymnal and I opened it up and checked the date…there it was 1896, loving history I was imagining all the folks that have come through the doors over the years to worship or get married or hold a meeting, or countless other things. Greg is right when he says it is time to write new chapters in this lovely building and he has plans for readings and plays and summer camps, and I too have a few ideas of my own for the places. Connecticut is awesome if you just look around. Watch the video below, and don’t worry the bell “will” ring when it’s time for you to walk down the aisle, you’ll know what I mean when you watch the video. Oh and Connecticut photographers, this would be a a great place for all kinds of shoots, just saying.

 

2 Comments

  1. Posted May 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I applaud Greg for showcasing the Pine Orchard Chapel. It is a very special building with lots of history and charm. I am lucky to have it as my neighbor and “watch” over it literally and figuratively. We are blessed to have a neighborhood that appreciates its’ history and supports the Chapel during our Annual Fundraising Drive. The Chapel has withstood many challenges during its lifetime and the Pine Orchard Community knows it will be here long after we are.

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted May 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      Sheri, thanks so much for reading the blog. Greg, is something isn’t he, he’s the right guy to help take care of your wonderful historic chapel.