Historic Hickman Chapel near Fallingwater is Now Restored
October 2, 2018
Mill Run, Pa. – October 2, 2018 – For decades, travelers along Route 381 in Stewart Township, Fayette County near Fallingwater would often stop to photograph the uniqueness and surrounding natural landscape of the unassuming little white chapel on the hillside.
Built in 1901, the historic Hickman Chapel Baptist Church has been a community landmark for more than a century. It served the community as a space for church services, weddings, funerals and meetings until the 1980s. But for the past 30 years, the chapel saw little public use, and nature took its toll on the building.
Coupled with a waning congregation, the trustees of the Hickman Chapel decided to preserve their chapel for future generations by donating it in 2017 to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the same conservation organization that owns and preserves Fallingwater. The donation also included one acre of land that contains a small cemetery, which are all now part of the Conservancy’s Bear Run Nature Reserve.
Justin Gunther, Fallingwater’s director and a vice president of the Conservancy, said the Hickman Chapel is an important part of the Fallingwater and Laurel Highlands landscape, and restoring it helps retain the area’s rich heritage of people and place.
“When most people think about the Laurel Highlands, they often make note of the natural beauty, Fallingwater, other Wright houses, large state parks and ski resorts,” he said. “But equally as important are the places where local community members and their families went to school, attended worship services or got married. Restoring and preserving this chapel helps those stories endure and further authenticates the Fallingwater landscape.”
With a Fayette County Tourism Program grant administered by the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, the Conservancy began work to restore the chapel in early 2018, with repairs and improvements concluding this spring. Restoration work included a new roof, restoration of the wood siding, exterior painting and window conservation.
In June 2018, Fallingwater staff welcomed community members to the chapel for an open house to see the improvements. Many of the more than 40 people who attended shared personal stories and family memories of the chapel. It was evident the chapel is a cherished landmark and community members appreciate that it will remain part of the community for many years to come.
The chapel will open again to community residents during Fallingwater’s Fayette County Appreciation Days on November 18 and December 8. Fallingwater hosts annual Fayette County Appreciation Days, which provide free tour admissions and kid-friendly educational activities for Fayette County residents.
To support this and similar preservation and conservation efforts at Fallingwater and the Bear Run Nature Reserve, become a Friend of Fallingwater today. In addition to knowing you are saving an architectural masterpiece and its surrounding landscape, your membership affords you ticket privileges and discounts in our online store.