Chapel to be improved, expanded
Thursday, May 08, 2014 12:00 AM
The Military War Album Chapel (above) has stood next to the Van Wert County Courthouse for 70 years, commemorating local veterans. Now an effort has begun to expand and refurbish the landmark. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
VAN WERT — The Military War Album Chapel next to the Van Wert County Courthouse will be undergoing an expansion and renovation. According to Veterans Service Officer Barry Johns, the display will be expanded so that anyone wanting to add a picture of a family member from Van Wert County who served in the armed forces will be able to do so by bringing a 3.5x5 inch print to Gibby’s Express Photo at 137 E. Main St. in Van Wert to have a picture prepared for display in the chapel.
In the renovation, along with the addition of more pictures, lighting will be updated, and all the old picture frames will be replaced. The building will stretch another 100 feet to the north when work is finished.
The chapel was constructed in 1944 at the Marsh Foundation and was then put up at its current site. It was built after then-Van Wert County Sheriff Roy Shaffer discovered that he had accumulated a collection of pictures of local veterans serving in the military. Shaffer decided that the pictures could be best displayed in a central location.
In 2003, then-Veterans Service Office Keith Harman began working toward a renovation of the building. Johns said, “If it wasn’t for Keith’s hard work at that time, we more than likely would not be seeing this renovation happening now.
There are some funds on hand at the Veterans Service Office from previous donations, but according to Johns further donations will be needed to complete the project. Donations can be sent to the Van Wert County Foundation with the memo line mentioning the Military Chapel Project.
Johns said that he is thankful to Alexander & Bebout, National Door & Trim, and Gibby’s Express Photo for their efforts in getting the renovation started and for all they will be doing throughout the project.