Ivoryton, Connecticut

Replacing a 600sf structure built 50 years ago, a new outdoor Chapel was built this year to satisfy one essential need: accommodating an entire sleep away camp population, under one roof for services.

Rather than ignore the legacy of the original Chapel, the design  incorporates the original sign, cross, and most significantly its exact size and shape as the central crowning “monitor” roof visually held aloft upon the largest prefabricated scissor trusses that could be transported to the site on the highway. The maxxed out trusses were further extended with field-applied outriggers. 

The site is a sensitive lakefront in central Connecticut that required extensive site engineering involving groundwater management, native species site plantings and minimal site disruption. Paths and the interior “floor” use gravel from an onsite quarry.

The building had a tight budget - $180,000 for 2,300sf of covered space plus 450sf of altar/deck. 

The fixed seating is designed more as bleachers than pews, getting maximum capacity in minimum space (320 children or 240 adults), the density of this approach allows for a generous altar/stage space for performances.

The trusses were field-ganged rot-proof stock dimensional lumber yellow pine as are the secondary “bents” which replicate the original Chapel – which were field-assembled and lofted into place by a large “Lull” and strategically bolted to the trusses. 

All exposed fasteners are stainless steel. Solid Douglas Fir T&G 2x6s are backed by ½” CDX plywood to create high-strength roof sheathing that allowed for extensive cantilevered eaves. The solid pressure-treated pine angled column shrouds protect steel columns from the weather and left to weather and extend to follow the grade. The deck uses stainless wire cabling and native stone rip-wrapping. 

The structural design is rigorous involving large concrete footings and piers that support the steel columns which in turn support the roof assembly. The specifications required zero maintenance (unfinished pressure treated wood surfaces, stainless steel fasteners, Trex seating and decking).

Careful planning allowed for a 3-month construction phase, from groundbreaking to consecration. Like a barn the new Chapel is comfortable in its own skin, and engineered to weather well.

Beyond the weekly services, the new Chapel is large enough to create a place for everyone at camp and visiting groups to assemble, sing and perform. All engineering and design services we donated.