The Parks Conservancy’s first capital project in Riverview Park was restoring the Chapel Shelter. The building had been closed since 2005, and funds were allocated for its demolition. With the help of the City and additional funders, the Parks Conservancy led an effort to return the once-popular building to its history as a lively gathering place.
In 2005, City crews removed dilapidated tennis courts behind the building in preparation for seeding a new lawn area for informal socialization. The landscape had become dominated by invasive Siberian elms, which were shading out a century-old collection of lilacs. The invasive species were removed, and native trees and shrubs were installed. With the removal of the Siberian elms, the area’s tree line was extended further away from the building, allowing sunlight to reach gardens around the Chapel planted with a historically-inspired collection of heirloom irises and other traditional flowers.
By June 2008, the building's restoration was completed. The interior was gutted and rebuilt with termite-resistant materials. An updated kitchen was installed, the porch and the restrooms were made wheelchair-accessible, and utilities were buried to increase the beauty and safety of the area. The new building otherwise looks very much like it did when it was first moved into the park, with a steeple, dormers, and charming color scheme. The Chapel Shelter is once again available for event rentals through the City’s Department of Public Works at 412-255-2370.
To view a slideshow of the Chapel's transformation, click here.