Project: Roof rehabilitation of St. Nicholas Chapel in Kenai, Alaska
In order to ensure the chapel remains for generations to come, preservation work was necessary to retain the character defining features of this unique structure. The goal of this project was to replace the deteriorating cedar shakes with cedar shingles, while also providing additional water proofing and protection. Doing so would slow further deterioration of the original log walls at the corners, which are also in need of repair and replacement in the future.
What we have done at the chapel
Thanks to a Historic Preservation Fund development grant administered by the Alaska State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service, and a generous donation from the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America, ROSSIA teamed up with the local parish of the Holy Assumption Orthodox Church to begin preservation work on the chapel’s roof. The project was also supported by technical assistance from the National Park Service’s Heritage Assistance Program team and contractors skilled in historic preservation work.
Removal of the deteriorating non-historic cedar shakes began in May 2019, followed by the installation of plywood decking, ice and water shield, cedar breather and new cedar shingles.
The St. Nicholas Chapel is one of the most highly recognized structures on the Kenai Peninsula. The Chapel of St. Nicholas was built in 1906, and rests over three graves, those of Igumen (or Abbot) Nikolai, first missionary in the Kenai Area, his assistant and reader, Makarii Ivanov, and one other monk whose name is unknown. The chapel is used for memorial services, and when weather permits, the priest holds a moleiben, or Thanksgiving service, in the chapel on December 19, St. Nicholas Day.
The Kenai Chapel Roof Rehabilitation Project was successful on multiple levels. Not only was the project itself successful, but it also fostered awareness, excitement, and momentum for the parish and local community. During the month of May while work was being conducted, the parish was contacted by a foundation who was interested in contributing towards future projects. As a result, ROSSIA and the parish members are developing new project ideas to capitalize on the momentum generated by the chapel re-roofing project.
The re-roofing project is the first step in preserving the chapel. Work is also needed to repair and replace rotting wall logs. While not in the scope of the re-roofing project, it is the next area to focus on. The chapel’s deteriorating cross, as well as the wooden crosses on the church domes are also in need of replacement.