The Exchange Club of Lafayette has recently worked to secure donations of time and money to renovate the dilapidated funeral chapel, located in the Indiana Veterans’ Home Cemetery in Lafayette.
The cemetery chapel, recognized as a historic building by the Wabash Valley Trust, was built in 1932 in order to host funeral services and other events to commemorate veterans. It has not been used in recent years.
Due to the poor conditions of the chapel and out of respect for the veteran community, the Exchange Club of Lafayette has pledged to revitalize the building, said Scott Myers, the fundraising chairman for the project.
“(The Exchange Club’s) three main focuses are family, community and country, so we try to support patriotism and different community projects,” Myers said.
The main renovations needed for the building are on its tile roof, Myers said, which is beginning to crumble. The breakage has created leaks and water damage to the ceiling and pews.
Apart from the roof, the chapel needs repairs to its windows and ceiling. Many of these minor issues are being fixed by volunteers who are donating their time, Myers said. These groups include local Eagle Scouts and people with experience as contractors.
“We’ve had some Boy Scout groups, some Eagle Scouts who have offered to come in and help, lots of different groups have offered their help and labor,” Myers said.
The Exchange Club of Lafayette, charted in 1926, is a chapter of the National Exchange Club. The Lafayette division specializes in activities that fall under Americanism, youth programs and community service. Although the chapel is not the first renovation project for the group, it is Myers’ first.
“I have been involved in a lot of other charities and things, but most of them were national organizations, and the thing that attracted me to the Exchange Club is that it’s local,” Myers said. “All of the money stays here.”
The chapel is one of the few original surviving buildings at the Indiana Veterans’ Home; the Commandant’s Home on the east edge of the cemetery is another preserved landmarks. The few buildings that have been preserved speak to times when the Veteran’s Home was better maintained, according to Tommy Kleckner, director of the Western Regional Office of Indiana Landmarks.
The Exchange Club of Lafayette has yet to begin renovations and is currently seeking monetary donations and volunteers. Myers said approximately $4,000 of a $40,000 goal has been raised so far.
The end goal is complete restoration of the chapel, allowing it to resume its function as a space to honor veterans.
“The chapel itself, well, it’s just a cute little historic structure with wonderful features for a building of its size,” Kleckner said. “(Historical buildings) add value to a community in terms of quality of place. They’re those unique features of a community, whether urban or rural, that help ground us.”