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Hillside Chapel restoration work may be completed by end of 2016

By on February 29, 2016
The Hillside Cemetery Chapel in Clarendon, located on State Route 237 just outside the Village of Holley.  It was placed on the Register of Historic Places in 2013 and a recent state grant will help pay for much needed restoration work. K. Gabalski photo

The Hillside Cemetery Chapel in Clarendon, located on State Route 237 just outside the Village of Holley. It was placed on the Register of Historic Places in 2013 and a recent state grant will help pay for much needed restoration work. K. Gabalski photo

This could be an exciting year for the Clarendon Historical Society. The group has spent more than two years raising funds for the restoration of the Hillside Cemetery Chapel and the awarding of a state grant recently means the search for qualified contractors may begin soon.

In late 2015, the project received a grant of $126,210 from the Environmental Protection Fund Municipal Grant Program.

“This is a highly competitive grant program which considers historic restoration projects across the State of New York,” says Historical Society member Erin Anheier As a volunteer, Anheier spearheaded the writing and submitting of the grant application. She notes that the grant award, “Validates what the Clarendon Historical Society (CHS) has been tireless in saying:  this building is important and deserves to be saved and enjoyed.”

The non-denominal chapel was built in 1894 of Medina Sandstone in the Gothic Revival style, Anheier explains.

It is one of four impressive Medina Sandstone religious buildings in and around the Village of Holley including St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the First Baptist Church.

“The latter two and the chapel were all designed by the same architect, Addison Forbes,” Anheier says. Forbes also designed the United Methodist Church in Adams Basin, built in 1892 and the Morton Baptist Church in Morton, built in 1889.

Clarendon Town Supervisor Richard Moy says the chapel is in significant need of repair. “Some work, such as re-pointing of the stone has already been done,” he says.  “The chapel needs a new (slate) roof and all of the windows need replacing. Because of the high cost of these repairs, the grant is a significant accomplishment. We have to thank Erin Anheier and Melissa Ierlan (Town Historian and CHS president) for their dedication and persistence without which this would not have happened. This is another landmark that will be saved in our town and the county.”

Additionally, the interior of the chapel will be refurbished, Anheier says.

The chapel was originally used for funeral services and was closed to the public for decades until the CHS began opening it on occasion for fund raising purposes.

“It has suffered both age related deterioration and vandalism,” Anheier says. “In addition to the fund raising activities, members of the CHS have made emergency repairs and cleaned out the chapel with help from GCC students.

 Many unique details can be found throughout the Hillside Cemetery Chapel, including the flying buttress (left) that supports the mortuary chamber vent. Provided photo


Many unique details can be found throughout the Hillside Cemetery Chapel, including the flying buttress (left) that supports the mortuary chamber vent. Provided photo

“The chapel is a very important part of the historic landscape of Hillside Cemetery,”

Anheier continues. “It speaks of the pride earlier residents had for the community and their desires to honor those who had passed on. I particularly love that it is constructed of Medina Sandstone – not only because it is a beautiful material, but because the quarrying of the stone was such a vital industry for Orleans County. It is a testament to the vision, skill and labor of our predecessors.”
Anheier says in addition to the recent state grant, the Historical Society has been  aided by Holley Central School students and several members of the community.Grants have also been obtained from the Elizabeth Dye Curtis Foundation and the Rochester Area Community Foundation.

“The funds raised will be used to match those acquired by the newest grant,” she explains. “Most of the required funds are in hand.”

The total cost of restoration work is estimated at about $250,000 CHS members say.

All work will conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Anticipated future uses include concerts, art exhibits, historical programs, weddings, memorial services and more, Anheier says.

“I look forward to the chapel being available for public use,” she explains. “I think it will be a great community asset and can help encourage the local enjoyment of the arts and history. The building has wonderful acoustics. I hope to hear many more musicians playing there.”

Anheier adds that the more familiar you become with the chapel, the more details you notice. “My favorite is the flying buttress that supports the mortuary chamber vent,” she says. “It’s completely gratuitous, but so grand.”

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