Post chapels reopen
January 16, 2009
FORT RILEY, Kan. - Following four months of closure for renovations, Fort Riley's Main Post Chapel and St. Mary's Chapel were officially reopened Jan. 5 during a mid-day open house.
Chap. (Col.) Gary Norris, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley chaplain, began the event with a brief summary of the work done at each chapel before welcoming those in attendance to begin a self-guided tour and see for themselves.
"This is a time of fellowship. We're having this open house so that we can look at the place without the rush of being between worship services," Norris said.
Joining visitors for the event were Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins, commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley; his wife, Annette; and Col. Richard Piscal, Fort Riley garrison commander; and his wife, Theresa.
Main Post Chapel, built in 1897, received a new sound booth, wood floors, paint, an electric piano, pews and other furniture. Workers also installed new carpet in basement classrooms. Outside, fresh landscaping surrounded serenity gardens with benches between the two chapels.
The renovation impressed Roy Watson, a retired Army warrant officer who's been attending Protestant services at the Main Post Chapel with his wife, Anita, since 1994.
"I think they've really done a great job," Watson said. "The floors are great. I like it a lot better than carpeting."
Watson said he hoped the reopening would improve service attendance - something that had dropped when services temporarily were moved to chapels on Custer Hill.
"Our congregation had dropped, and now we're hoping it will get back up once we get back into the chapel here and people see how nice it is," Watson said.
Just a few yards away from Main Post Chapel, visitors passed through new doors to see the renovations at St. Mary's Chapel, which opened in 1855.
The open house also revealed refinished wood floors, new carpeting, pews and other furnishings. The tour's final destination was St. Mary's basement, where refreshments were served.
Chap. (Lt. Col.) Melvin Stanley, a U.S. Army Reservist, greeted visitors to the event and answered questions about the extensive work done. Stanley spent nearly three years overseeing the renovation project.
"We're very proud of what we've been able to accomplish," Stanley said. "I think people will enjoy this for years to come."
Stanley has orders to remain at Fort Riley for one more year. Other work he's been involved with is the installation of three, electronic message boards near chapels on Custer Hill. His next big project will be a new ceiling at Kapaun Chapel.
For more information on the Chaplaincy and services at Fort Riley, visit www.riley.army.mil/Services/Fort/ReligiousMinistries.aspx.