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Saturday, July 16, 2016

The "A Trip To Boehm's Chapel" - Part II: The Reconstruction" Story

Boehm's Chapel after an 1883 remodel.  Notice only
two windows on the side which has the doorway.
It was an ordinary day. My hostess, Dolores Myers, is showing me photographs taken during the reconstruc- tion of the 1791 Boehm's Chapel. In 1883 the fieldstone chapel was remodeled; the balcony was torn down, the ceiling was lowered and the windows enlarged.  Then in 1899 a new and larger church was built to the east of the chapel, to allow for a larger congregation, and the chapel fell into disrepair.
The original two upper windows were discovered and reopened.
Eventually a Chapel Society was formed which decided to bring the historic 32 x 40 foot chapel back to life once again. The photographs Dolores is showing me show what they found when they began to remodel the chapel.  The original windows on the second floor of the chapel had been boarded up and covered with masonry in 1883 and were being opened once again.
This old photo shows a lowered ceiling and only two windows
with a pulpit that is at the same level as the pews. On the left
front is more than likely a piano or organ.
The balcony was being recon- structed and new stairs were being placed in the same location as in the original chapel. The windows were once again made smaller as they appeared in 1791. An upper interior wall revealed the shape of the pew backs and the new pews were made to match the original pews.
This view shows the raised pulpit, an
upper window with a raised ceiling and
a balcony. The piano no longer remains.
The original ceiling light still remained, but was electrified. The pulpit was once again raised, but the old coal stove was removed and new heating and cooling was added.  I saw either a piano or small organ in one of the photographs, but that was removed since there was none in the 1791 chapel.  As I walked about the small chapel, that can comfortably seat about 120 people, I wondered what it might have been like to go to this chapel in the eighteenth century.  What type of transportation was available? What were they wearing when they came to this chapel?  Were there prayer books and hymnals? How much was put in the collection plates? What style of clothing did they wear and how long or short was their hair?  
This old photo shows the style and configuration of the pews
on the balcony level.  The windows in the 1883 remodeling
were made larger and can be seen on the right with cement
blocks filled it to make them the same size as they were in 1791.
Did the children sit with their parents? Was the gossip flying around the chapel before the minister walked into the chapel? Was there a choir? Did the minister give fiery sermons with lots of "Amens" thrown around by the congregants? And, how will anyone every know? I snapped photo after photo until I could see I was becoming a nuisance.
This photo show the steps to the balcony that are being
placed back in the chapel as it was in 1791.
Asked a few final questions, gave a small donation in the wooden box in a rear window with a padlock upon it. Outside the chapel, Dolores asked what I did. I told her I was a retired school teacher. "And, where did you teach?" she asked. "Manheim Township High School ... graphic arts," I responded. Then she told me she knew of only one teacher who had taught there ... her son's father-in-law who he and his wife are on vacation  to the West coast to celebrate their 40th anniversary. I said, "Would that be Mike?" She looked at me puzzled and said, "Small world."  I told her Mike and I have been working together for over 40 years doing the in-house printing for the district and that my three children had him as a teacher when they were in elementary and middle school. So, my visit was more than just a trip back into history today, but knowing just how small a world we live in.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Looking toward the rear door as it was in the 1883 renovation.
The 1989 renovation view looking the same direction.  Notice the lower ceiling to allow for the balcony.

A view from the balcony looking toward the pulpit.
The ceiling light still remains the same, but has been electrified.
Looking out a side window at the headstone of Martin Boehm and his wife in the Chapel's cemetery.
Click on this view of the headstone to enlarge it.
Looking toward the west toward the original Boehm farm where Martin was born.
The stone plaque tell the story of Boehm's Chapel. An original 1791 shutter was found and exact replicas were added to the 1989 renovation. The red brickwork above the windows was added as in the original 1791 chapel.
One final look at Boehm's Chapel before my departure.

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