Hannah Carroll, Campus Carrier Staff Writer
Barnwell Chapel is to undergo renovations beginning on March 1 that will last through the summer.
The chapel, originally built in 1911, was last fully reconstructed in 1985, due to the funding of Joyce VanderPyl Scott. The lumber used was made from trees logged on Berry’s own campus, but the wood was never treated and its bark never removed. According to Assistant Director of the Physical Plant Mark Simpson, this caused the logs to deteriorate and rot over time. Instead of replacing the logs when this began to occur, a mortar was spread over the wood and in the crevices in order to preserve the structure.
The building has been in need of renovations for the last 10 years, according to Director of the Physical Plant Mark Hopkins, but due to the scheduling of events in the chapel, this construction has been postponed until the chapel is the least active. A few logs have been replaced, according to Simpson, but full restoration was never completed.
Construction is set to begin March 1 and last six months, during which the chapel will be closed to all services and events. Barnwell will be restored with Berry’s own lumber again; the collection of the logs has already started, but the wood will be sent to local lumber company S.I. Storey to be keel dried and pressure treated, according to Simpson.
Though the chapel is undergoing a full restoration, the building will still retain its historical accuracy and design. Construction designs will follow the oldest picture of Barnwell found in archives, according to Simpson.
“We are just trying to match the log sizes and uniformity of it and a lot of the details from when it was originally built,” said Simpson.
The project will include smaller renovations as well. Along with having the logs replaced, the chapel will be given a new roof, copper gutters, updated electrical services, and a handicapped entrance made from concrete and brick, according to Hopkins.
Berry will be furnishing the lumber for the project, but labor is being out sourced to general contractor Crown Enterprise Inc. led by Aubrey Harper, according to Simpson.
Local wood-turner Al Christopher was also asked to aid in the renovations. Christopher has partnered with Berry for projects in the past, including the replacement of Possum Trot’s windows and the construction of the pavilion at Oak Hill, and has agreed to act as crew chief to replace the windows of Barnwell. The manufacturing process will take several weeks and be completed in his workshop in Florida, according to Christopher.
The renovations of Barnwell were recommended to begin by Historic Berry preservation consultants, who meet once a month to discuss all historic buildings on campus and their preservation. There are many historic structures on campus that demand attention and priority in order to be maintained, and it was time for Barnwell to receive that concern, according to Chief of Staff Debbie Heida.
The project will be funded by endowment dollars given to Historic Berry for preservation and through fundraising. Casee Gilbert, director of hospitality and event services, and her team are set to contact couples who were married in Barnwell to ask for donations which will aid in matching the money allocated for historic preservation, according to Heida.
Many events and weddings are held in Barnwell, but the conflict of rescheduling occasions while construction is in progress was addressed in the spring of 2018. Couples who had reserved the chapel for their weddings were contacted and informed that they would not be displaced but would be allowed to be married at other locations on campus, a privilege usually reserved for those with a connection to Berry, according to Heida.
The Chaplain’s Office has also worked with the Catholic Student Association in order to relocate where they may partake in mass, while Barnwell is undergoing renovations.
Barnwell has served as a place of prayer and solace and become significant to the Berry community. Because of this, Heida hopes that it wil be properly restored in order to keep serving the community in years to come.