Tucked behind the Lowry Town Center, the Eisenhower Chapel at 293 Roslyn Street is reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. This simple white tongue and groove building that opened its doors just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, has stood as a quiet witness to the neighborhood’s many changes since World War II. Today, it is calling on Lowry and the broader community to support a capital campaign to restore and preserve its damaged exterior.
The Lowry Foundation in partnership with Historic Denver in November 2018 announced a $105,000 Colorado State Historical Fund grant award to underwrite just over 50% of the needed exterior siding repair. The grant requires that The Foundation secure matching funds, and a capital campaign is underway even as repairs are scheduled to begin in April. The Lowry Community Master Association has donated $10,000 to the capital campaign and an oversized thermometer outside the Chapel shows that the campaign has reached almost 70% of its goal.
Built as one of four nondenominational traditional-design military chapels to serve the spiritual needs of the former Lowry Air Force Base’s enlistees, it is the only surviving chapel of its kind in Colorado, and one of just a few in the country. The Chapel owes its endurance to the fact that President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower and his wife attended services here when Lowry was the site of the “summer White House” from 1953-1955. A plaque marks the pew where the couple routinely sat.
Eisenhower loved Colorado. He married Denver native Mamie Doud, whose parents had built a home at 750 Lafayette Street in 1906. A decade later, while a General in the Army, Eisenhower and Mamie wed at this address; given frequent moves during his military career, the couple considered this their home address for decades. As President (1952-60), Eisenhower and his wife made many trips to Denver. The Lowry Foundation Board Chair Evan Lasky grew up in Denver and recalls going out to see the presidential motorcade make its way along 8th Ave. to the Lafayette address.
He also recalls the Base. “When we were kids, from 7th and Colorado we would ride our bikes over to watch the planes land” at Lowry Air Force Base, Lasky says.
The Chapel is a reminder of this era, and for Lowry Foundation Executive Director Jeane Larkins, the Chapel embodies Lowry’s historic heart and its present center. “This is a gathering place, and the centerpiece for a lot of our efforts to bring people together.”
Memorials, weddings, vow renewals, bar and bat mitzvahs, films, speakers, concerts, and neighborhood association meetings frequently take place at the Chapel, which comfortably seats up to 200. The Lowry Foundation is reaching out to the entire community and to as many of the 1,000,000 people who lived and worked at the Lowry Air Force Base as can be contacted, to seek their support of this important project and share information about the many events planned for 2020, which marks the 25-year anniversary of the Air Force Base’s closing. “We’re going to have a year-long series of events to mark the anniversary of the closing of the Base and the anniversary of the beginning of the neighborhood of Lowry,” says Larkins.
Learn more from State Historian Tom Noel onThe History of the Eisenhower Chapel
Tuesday, February 5, 7pm
Free admission, Eisenhower Chapel.
Sponsored by Lowry Speakers Series and History Colorado. More info: lowryfoundation.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.