By Shawn Chitnis
DENVER (CBS4) – A chapel that once welcomed President Dwight D. Eisenhower is in dire need of repair. The Eisenhower Memorial Chapel is located on the former Lowry Air Force Base and is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.
“This is a special place in Lowry and in Denver,” said Barbara Volpe, the vice chair of the board of directors for the Lowry Foundation. “I was a flower girl in a wedding of a colonel because my father was stationed here.”
The Historic Eisenhower Chapel on 293 Roslyn Street is the only one that remains of the four built at the Air Force base and dedicated 14 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The former president visited it many times when in Denver because his wife had ties to Colorado.
Next year the foundation and the neighborhood plan to mark 25 years since the base closed.
“The mission of our organization is to preserve the legacy of the Lowry Air Force Base.” Jeane Larkins, executive director of the Lowry Foundation. “The chapel really is the symbol of that, it’s the gathering place.”
The siding of the building needs to be restored, the project requires it to be removed and then replaced. As a site on historic registries, the work will need to keep the original style and materials of the chapel when it was first built. The foundation also hopes to upgrade the audio and video equipment inside as well, calling the campaign “Side With Us.” Inside the chapel, there is a plaque that marks the pew Eisenhower preferred when he visited.
“He considered Lowry the summer White House part of the time,” said Volpe.
While the other three chapels did not survive redevelopment in the neighborhood, the foundation wants to make sure this chapel remains for the current generation and the one after it. Their staff see it as a town center and it also serves as a source of income for the foundation when people use the chapel for events.
“It’s just a vibrant community, and part of the vibrancy is that there are so many old buildings that were part of Lowry that have been mixed into the new Lowry community,” said Volpe. “It belongs to all of us.”
The air force base helped to bring in people of all backgrounds and the foundation wants to see that makeup remain in its neighborhood. They see the chapel as a reminder of that history and a lesson for those that move to Lowry in the years to come.
“We celebrate that diversity,” said Larkins. “It’s an important part of who we are, and an important part of why the neighborhood is the way it is.”
The foundation has already received a grant of more than $100,000 thanks to the help of Historic Denver. The project will require another $100,000 to complete all of the necessary work on the
To make a donation, you can support “Side With Us” as part of Colorado Gives Day. You can also schedule your donation before Dec. 4.
“We’ve got a little piece of that nobody else has and we want to share that and make people are aware of what was here before they got here,” said Larkins.