A Historic Harrisonburg Chapel is On the Market

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV)-- Those who attended services at the Mabel Memorial Chapel are disappointed that history could be lost.

"My husband's buried here and I was married in this chapel, almost 60 years ago," said Helen Foley.

Foley looks at her son's grave and then the grave where her husband is buried, and one day, where she will be buried.

The chapel was closed down by the parent church, First Presbyterian, in 2007.

Reverend John Heeringa says it was a matter of safety.

"Well, my understanding is that the building was accessed by a bunch of property type people who came through and said it's unsafe and so the congregation was asked to move out because it was not a safe place for them to meet," said Rev. Heeringa, the First Presbyterian Church's pastor.

Some dispute why this chapel was closed. Members of the chapel fundraised. Foley says donated funds for the chapel were never returned.

Land was donated by a naval officer for the chapel in 1898.

Former members are disappointed at the possibility of losing the chapel forever.

"I don't like to see the sale of it, I would like to see it you know, maybe refurbished as a historical place," said Foley.

Now, it's run down, with the door handle falling off and paint chipping. Foley worries what a new owner near the cemetery would mean.

"Tombstones getting destroyed or knocked down," said Foley.

But Pastor Heeringa says that any funds from a sale would prevent that.

"To maintain the cemetery and a fund for local missions and a fund for global missions," said Rev. Heeringa.

But as time goes on, Foley still worries the legacy of those who met here, and are buried here, could disappear.

The land has been on the market before. Harrisonburg has also part of the chapel land for the Reservoir Street project. Money from that sale went to missions work.

Reverend Heeringa also welcomed another church to buy the land.

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