By Karen Morfitt
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– One of Colorado’s most iconic attractions is getting a makeover. The United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel will be out of commission for an estimated four years while the work happens.
Almost as unique as the building its self are the stories of those visiting the chapel.
“I interviewed with a congressman before college, I was trying to come here. I guess I didn’t answer his questions right because I didn’t get to come,” Mike Carlson joked.
Years after that interview, Carlson and his wife Molly are getting their first look inside one of Colorado’s most visited man made attractions.
“It’s a stunning structure, it’s just beautiful,” Molly Carlson said.
On Jan. 1, 2019 the visits will stop.
“We just put buckets out and if anything we will wipe the wood down when we can,” Chapel Spokesperson Stephen Peterson said.
After years of mopping up after storms Peterson says, the historic building will undergo a year’s long restoration project.
To fix the issues the building is going to be stripped down to the bone, a look similar to its construction in the early 1960s.
“The only thing you will see here in the middle of the project is the steel frame, it will be like a giant erector set,” he said.
The project will be complicated.
Replacing each of the aluminum panels, removing, and cleaning every one of the stained glass pieces are just part of the work.
“When you think about the complexity of the structure itself there’s a lot of risk factor,” Peterson said.
Inside, the Cadet Chapel’s main focal point will get special attention.
“All of the components of the pipe organ storing them and then fulling restoring it and then putting it back in the chapel,” Peterson said.
After more than 50 years of wear and tear with little repair, visitors like Mike and Molly say, they understand the need for upgrades.
“Not really surprising, I’m homeowner I get it,” Carlson laughed.
Visit the Cadet Chapel’s Facebook page to learn more about the project.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.