Project Partner: Handy Chapel Congregation

To kick-off HistoriCorps' summer 2011 field season, the Handy Chapel Preservation Workshop preserved and rehabilitated the historic Handy Chapel in Grand Junction. The roof replacement was a crucial first step in restoring the Chapel House so that it can be return to use serving the community. The Handy Chapel Congregation would like to use the Chapel House to display a collection of items that will interpret the African American experience in Grand Junction, while also providing space for a nonprofit to run an afterschool program for homeless youth.

History: After acquiring the land for the Chapel in 1883 from the town founders of Grand Junction, the Handy Chapel congregation spent nine years raising the 962.50 dollars required to build their new place of worship. To the African American congregation, Handy Chapel was a sanctuary from the individual, institutional and cultural racism that blocked their full integration into the Grand Junction community. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Handy Chapel is the only remaining original church on the original lots of the Grand Junction townsite. By the 1910s, the congregation recognized a need for more space, and built the Chapel House so that they could offer housing to the downtrodden and lodging to African Americans traveling through Grand Junction that were barred from renting rooms at local motels before desegregation. The Chapel House continued to serve this noble purpose until the original shingle roof failed, making the house inhabitable. The small congregation of current church members were simply unable to keep pace with mounting maintenance costs of the historic buildings. Handy Chapel was designated as one of Colorado's Most Endangered Places in 2011.

Scope of Work: The primary focus was on replacing the cedar shingle roof of the Chapel House, which was severely deteriorated. A temporary covering was placed on the roof this last winter to prevent further damage, but it was damaged in a recent wind storm. It was critically important that the roof be replaced in order to protect the structure and the original interior finishes. Other preservation activities included stabilizing the front porch addition, securely boarding up the windows and doors, and various other maintenance needs.

Participants Learned To:

• Analyze the roof structure to determine what materials can be saved and what must be replaced
• Repair and replace a cedar shingle roof to meet current building code requirements
• Reestablish a foundation and stabilize a non-original, but historic porch addition
Properly secure windows and doors
• Selectively demolish a non-original, non-historic side porch addition
• Remove non-historic vegetation that is interfering with the building?s structural stability
• Various, smaller maintenance tasks related to historic buildings


Here's a link to the Denver Post article that was written about the project:

  • May 3, 2011 - May 6, 2011