With the announcement that one of the area’s most historic building is going to be restored, Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen was ecstatic – “I like history and I love historic buildings,” Allen told the Daily Times Tuesday.
One of the items on the City Manager’s Report coming up at Monday’s City Council meeting calls for the Greenlawn Cemetery chapel garage to be demolished, but Allen was quick to say it will not only not affect the historic building, but will give the city an opportunity to restore it to it’s original stature.
“Someone built a garage and attached it to that old historic structure probably in the 60s,” Allen said. “It is cemented to the side of the chapel. They’re taking that off and then we’re going to restore it back to its original way, and then we’re going to do some repairs so it doesn’t deteriorate.”
Allen said the city received grant funding to complete the restoration and now the city will let the project go to bid within the next couple of weeks. He said the environmental review is ongoing. The garage will be demolished and masonry and roof repair work will be done to create the restoration.
“It will look exactly like it did when they built it,” Allen said.
They built it in 1884. It was the site of many funerals for Civil War and World War I veterans as well as civilians.
The four vaults in the stone floor housed caskets when the ground was frozen in the winter, during the 1913 flood and during 1917-1918 Spanish influenza epidemic. In October 1918, caskets were stacked from the floor to the chapel ceiling with 11 funerals in one day, 36 in one week and 105 that month. The record has never been broken.
It is believed the chapel was designed by Captain A.B. Alger with local Ashlar Indented stone. It was restored and rededicated on May 28, 2001.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.