Chestnut Creek Heritage Chapel starts balcony project

Published 2:19 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chestnut Creek Heritage Chapel is starting a project to open the enclosed balcony at the back of the chapel.

Ola Taylor, vice president, said opening up the balcony is something the group has wanted to do since 2016.

The group wants to restore the original look of the interior by removing the walls that turned the balcony into classrooms.

“We are trying to get this place back as much as we can to the old look,” Taylor said.

The exact year the balcony was enclosed to create classrooms for Chestnut Creek Baptist Church, which used the building until 2007, is unknown. Taylor said it has to be sometime in the ’50s.

“My mother-in-law remembers in 1950 coming here to her grandfather’s funeral, and she sat in the balcony,” Taylor said.

She said she thinks the balcony was closed before 1960.

“They used it for the boys Sunday School classes,” Taylor said.

An air conditioning unit, to cool the main seating area, had been installed in a portion of the balcony but is no longer in use.

“The unit itself doesn’t work,” Taylor said. “All of the ductwork was just useless, so we decided to take it out.”

The Chestnut Creek Heritage Chapel committee had previously had a new air conditioning unit installed. Taylor said an additional unit will be needed in the future, but would not be located in the balcony.

The project is expected to take two and a half days to complete.

“I went here as a child, and I have no memory of seeing it open,” Taylor said. “I probably did, but I just didn’t pay any attention to it, so for me personally it is going to be a chance to see something I missed the first time … it seems to mean a lot to a lot of people.”

Taylor attended the church in the ’50s and ’60s before leaving to attend college.

Two old wooden benches have been stored in one room of the balcony and will likely be put on display somewhere in the chapel.

Several areas adjoining what was once the main sanctuary have become history display areas. A display of a ’40s-’50s era bedroom is also in the works.

While the balcony will likely not be used for regular seating, the elevated position may come in handy for filming events at the chapel.

The renovation project has been made possible through donations and fundraisers.

“Once people found out that that’s what we were going to do with it, they were eager to get involved,” Pam Persons said.

Previously, all funds had to go to immediate structural needs. Persons said this was the first purely cosmetic project the organization was able to complete at the chapel.

Initial renovations were funded through Chestnut Creek Heritage Chapel and completed in 2016.

Chestnut Creek Heritage Chapel will likely celebrate the re-opening of the balcony during a September presentation by musician and storyteller Sean of the South.