The Indiana Veterans’ Home in West Lafayette is a picturesque tree-shaded campus, established in the 1890s to serve aging Civil War veterans. In recent years, preservation advocates have focused attention on the deteriorated buildings of Commandant’s Row, an entry on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered list. But lately another campus building captured the attention of a local nonprofit, prompting the group to commit to its restoration.
Tucked away at the treeline in a corner of the veterans’ cemetery, the 1932 cemetery chapel is a showcase of simple but graceful architecture. Arched multi-pane windows and doors with opalescent transoms punctuate each elevation of the small Renaissance Revival-style building, filling the interior with natural light.
Indiana Veterans’ Home used the chapel regularly for funerals, weddings, and religious services until about ten years ago. However, the chapel’s distance from residents’ buildings made it difficult for some residents to access, and the lack of climate control in the building limited its use. Today the chapel is used only for storage and damage to its low-hipped green tile roof and soffits is contributing to the building’s deterioration.
Ron and Randa Halsema, members of the Exchange Club of Lafayette, discovered the neglected chapel on a drive through the cemetery and decided to take up its rehabilitation with their fellow members. The group voted to raise $40,000 by March 1, 2020, to cover repair of the tile roof and beadboard soffits, as well as gutter and downspout work. Volunteers plan to help refinish the ceiling, floor, and pews inside, rehab the windows, and tackle painting, landscaping, and cleaning.
The repairs will make the chapel usable again for fair-weather activities. The Veterans’ Home hopes to install an HVAC system to facilitate year-round use of the space by veterans and their families.
To learn more or donate to the project, email Fundraising Chairman Scott Myers, email@example.com, or visit the Exchange Club of Lafayette’s Facebook Page.
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