In order to restore and protect the exterior a historic church in Lowry that was the congregational choice for president Dwight Eisenhower when Lowry was his summer White House, the Lowry Foundation and Historic Denver are looking for a little help.
The exterior of the building has started to wear and in order to maintain the property they will have to raise $105,000 to match a grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund.
The historic church, aptly named Chapel 1, is located on the old Lowry Air Force Base. Evan Lasky, the incoming chair of the board for the Lowry Foundation, says it’s an invaluable piece of Colorado History. He noted that besides the Eisenhower connection, the significance it has had in American and more specifically, Denver’s history makes it a building worth saving.
“The neighborhood has done such a terrific job of preserving history,” Lasky said.
He noted that the area’s history is more extensive than most people realize. Well before it was a aerial base for the United States military, it was the home to the Agnes C. Phipp Memorial Sanatorium.
Although the structure of the church has held up well for over 70 years, Lasky says the siding on its exterior is starting to experience the effects of aging.
“The siding is disintegrating on the building. Because it’s a historic place, it’s not like we can go to Lowe’s, get siding and have it slapped it on,” Lasky said. They need some hand-milled, tongue and groove pine in order to restore the deteriorating walls of the building.
He says they hope to begin construction in March and April and be done by July.
Although it’s located in Denver, the military history of the base has made the church an important place for people throughout the country. He noted that during its time over a million people went through and spent time in the area.
Lasky himself has warm memories of the church and former Air Force base from his childhood. As a longtime Denver resident, he fondly recalls biking to an area near Chapel 1 as a child to watch the airplanes fly in and out in the early ’50s.
Lasky says they’ve gotten quite a few donations from people outside of Denver. Many of those people cite their strong emotional ties to the moments they had in the church as the reason for their donations. He says they received a $4,000 check recently from a man who had gotten married there over 30 years ago and had also gotten his vows renewed in the church.
“The Lowry Community Master Association has pledged $10,000, people are showing out of the woodwork,” Lansky said.
Besides providing warm memories and a historic aesthetic for the commercial area situated right next to the base, several community institutions use the facility on a regular basis, according to Lasky. There’s a Christian congregation that has service there on Sundays, the Lowry foundation uses it for a speaker series, people rent out the space regularly, and the building’s conference rooms can be reserved for meetings and other functions.