Renovations to temporarily shut down Old Post Chapel
September 20, 2012
By Rhonda Apple
Old Post Chapel on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has a reverent and stoic history. The structure, completed on Fort Myer in 1935 by then Lt. Col. George S. Patton, is still used today for our nation's military servicemembers and Family members, who are qualified for burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
The chapel is also extremely popular for wedding ceremonies, which can be booked up to a year in advance.
However, funerals and weddings will have to be conducted at JBM-HH's Memorial Chapel, starting Jan. 1, 2013, as the historic chapel will undergo renovations to modernize facilities and meet compliancy standards. The renovation project is expected to be conducted through September 2013.
"This is a major project," said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Clyde Scott, installation chaplain on JBM-HH. Scott said the chapel toilets will get a modern make-over, and once the renovations are complete, the facilities will be handicap-accessible, meeting compliancy standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. "There are no bathrooms upstairs and only two downstairs," he said. "Once renovations are complete, there will be an ADA-compliant bathroom on the right-hand side of the chapel's ground floor entrance. They're also building a Soldier's lounge in the chapel's basement for the Honor Guard Soldiers to hang out between ceremonies, including toilets and a shower."
"In preparation for the Old Post Chapel closing, we plan on completing work at Memorial Chapel. The expansion of the front drive and replacement of the black barriers in front of the chapel have been completed -- that was phase one," Scott said. "Phase two will consist of putting an awning over the main entrance to Memorial Chapel as an overhang and repair the doors. The third and final phase will include putting a temporary, portable unit outside [in the parking lot near] the chapel for the Honor Guard [servicemembers] who participate in the funeral ceremonies."
Scott said having temporary facilities in a portable structure near the Memorial Chapel will be more convenient for the Soldiers. "We can't have the Soldiers inundating daily operations at Memorial Chapel every time they need to use the restrooms," he added.
In addition to latrines, the portable unit will include a lounge area for the servicemembers to rest and relax in between funeral ceremonies. Scott said he wants vending machines for snacks and beverages included in the portable unit. "It will be a [servicemember's] lounge designed to improve their quality of life on duty [between] ceremonies," said Scott.
"We project reopening Old Post Chapel after September, 2013," Scott said. "This will be the first major renovation to Old Post Chapel's history. The last renovations were completed earlier this year, with the complete restoration of the pipe organ."
Scott said weddings and funerals will continue to be held at Old Post Chapel through December 2012, however, beginning January 1, 2013, no weddings will be scheduled for the Old Post Chapel through October 2013.
"The chapel can be booked for weddings a year in advance and anyone interested in doing so must call Betsy Hendrix, the Memorial Chapel administrative assistant, who reserves the chapel for weddings at 703-696-6635.