New windows, roof and air conditioning in the charming cemetery chapel
The chapel of the Olathe memorial cemetery is undergoing an overhaul. With a grant from the Kansas Historical Society‘s Heritage Trust Fund, the building will receive a new roof, along with repairs related to previous water leaks.
The $ 90,000 grant, combined with the Town of Olathe’s $ 40,000, will cover the bill for this project. Although the cemetery itself dates back to 1865, workers in the Works Progress Administration built this chapel in 1937 using hand-hewn limestone from a local quarry.
Currently, the chapel has three entrances, two at the front in addition to one accessible from the side. The project will transform the two front entrances into stained glass windows, making the only entrance on the side.
â€œOn the outside, they’re going to remove the roof, replace any rotten structural wood, then they’ll put all the mortar joints back together, redo the walls and put the roof back in place. One of the windows needs to be replaced and (we’ll have) leveling around the exterior to keep water from running against the building, â€said Brian Nilges, cemetery manager.
They will also replace a window air conditioning unit with a central unit.
Cemetery staff have used the chapel as office space, although Nilges said he hopes the renovation will allow them to use it for cremation services and in inclement weather. The last restoration of the chapel dates back to the mid-1980s.
The cemetery itself, including the chapel, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a designation he received four years ago. This status made the cemetery eligible for the grant for the restoration of the chapel, but it was still not easy.
There is a lot of competition statewide for Heritage Trust Fund grants. They tried last year and didn’t understand.
The Kansas Historical Society typically has about $ 1 million to distribute each year under this program. Funding comes from mortgage registration fees across the state. The company is generally able to fund between 25 and 33% of requests.
This year, 15 projects received $ 1,168,492 in grant funding. The company tries to spread the funded projects statewide. The chapel restoration is the only one in Johnson County this year.
The local support received from the town of Olathe was essential to the success of the cemetery nomination.
Other criteria sought by the historical society include the historical importance of the place, the type of work to be done and the urgency with which the property needs work.
Bethany Falvey, grants coordinator for the Heritage Trust Fund, said she was impressed with the work of organizing the cemetery.
â€œWe want projects that are ready to go,â€ she said. â€œThey got a good offer showing exactly what the job was going to be and demonstrated the urgency of the water entering and damaging the building. Since it is a small building, they can arrange for the grant to go further.
Falvey said cemetery staff were working with the Kansas Historical Society for advice on the business.
“I have no doubt it will be a good project,” she said.
They will monitor the project through monthly progress reports and photos. Once any Heritage Trust Fund project is completed, the company monitors it to ensure it is maintained for at least five years.
The project has just started and could take up to a year.