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The Chapel Building - Initial Construction

The initial meeting of the Middle Bass Chapel Association was held on August 10, 1881 at the cottage of Mrs. Daniel Horn Mears on the corner of Grove Avenue and Rehberg Avenue.  This cottage doesn’t exist today; it was located on William Rehberg’s 1st Addition, lot 19 which is currently owned by the Middle Bass Club.  The goal of the Middle Bass Chapel Association was “to erect a building to be used for religious and literary purposes.”  The following ladies were elected a Board of Trustees:  Mrs. Daniel Horn Mears, Mrs. Francis Pilgrim Isherwood, Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey, Mrs. Leander Solomon Baumgardner, Mrs. James Clark and Mrs. David Clark.  The first officers of the Middle Bass Chapel Association included: President, Mrs. Daniel Horn Mears, Vice President, Mrs. Scott [Probably Mrs. Alexander W. Scott], Secretary, Miss Pamela Berdan [daughter of member Peter Frederick Berdan and his wife Maria Waite] and Treasurer, Mrs. Matthew Shoemaker.  By vote, a Building Committee of gentlemen was selected to work with the Trustees in erecting the Chapel, which was comprised of: Mr. Peter Frederic Berdan, Mr. Welcome Otis Parker, Mr. William Keeny McMillan, Mr. James Clark, Mr. Matthew Shoemaker and Mr. Leander Burdick.  Both the Middle Bass Chapel Association Trustees and Building Committee were comprised of Middle Bass Club cottage owners; suggesting they had a vested interest in building a Chapel for worship as they planned to spend a significant amount of time at the Middle Bass Club during the summers. 

No major business transpired at the second meeting which was held on August 19, 1881; there are no notations as to where the meeting took place. 

The third meeting on August 13, 1881 took place at the cottage of Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey.  This cottage exists today; it’s located on Grove Avenue, William Rehberg lot 10 which is currently owned by the Jones-Cumberworth family.  During this meeting, Mr. Matthew Shoemaker was appointed to provide a “Draught [sketch] of a Chapel building such as would seem suitable for the purposes to which the said Chapel would be devoted.” 

The fourth meeting occurred on September 2, 1881 at the cottage of Mrs. Daniel Horn Mears.  A Constitution and By-Laws were read, approved and unanimously adopted.  The Middle Bass Chapel Association Constitution and By-Laws are almost identical to those in place for the Middle Bass Club at that time.  During the meeting, the Middle Bass Chapel Association voted “that the plan of the Chapel building be moved over to the Building Committee subject to their approval.”  In order to fund the erection of the Chapel and pay for ministers and building maintenance, the Middle Bass Club Chapel Association solicited “subscriptions,” from active Middle Bass Club members.  The subscriptions were fifty cents per year. A Soliciting Committee was created to collect subscriptions from the Middle Bass Club members consisting of: Mrs. Leander Burdick, Mrs. Abraham F. Rutherford [her husband managed the Middle Bass Club House], Mrs. John Berdan II, Miss Cousie Berdan [Daughter of member John Bedan II and his wife Victoria Sinclair] and Miss Annie Rutherford [Daughter of Abraham F. Rutherford and his wife Sarah H Moss].

The fifth meeting on September 25, 1881 was held at the cottage of Mrs. Matthew Shoemaker.  This cottage exists today; it’s located on Lake Avenue, William Rehberg lot 1 which is currently owned by the Bradfish-Collins family.  The following resolution was unanimously adopted: “Resolved: That this Contract for building the Chapel on the plan, and according to the specifications of E. O. Fallis Architect, be let to Joseph Brady for the sum of $1,500 (Fifteen Hundred Dollars).  Payments to made as follows: One third part – thereof when the material is on the ground, one third part – when the building is enclosed and the balance on the 1st day of June 1882 provided the building is finished by that date.” 

During the winter months, no formal Middle Bass Club Chapel Association meetings were held.  However, Mrs. Leander Burdick and Mrs. Frederick B. Dodge started out on a soliciting expedition and an unknown sum [this was left blank in the Records Book] was mailed and deposited in the name of the Secretary to pay for the construction of the building.  Except for member subscription fees, the Records Book does not contain specific documentation concerning who paid for the initial construction of the Chapel building.  Thus, we can assume that the Middle Bass Chapel Association Board of Trustees and Officers, the Building Committee and the other 1881-1882 Middle Bass Club members contributed the money necessary to build the Chapel. 

In 1882, there was a meeting on July 4th at the cottage of Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey where it was “sought to accept the Chapel building – the contract for which had previously been accepted.  The Treasurer was authorized to pay Mr. Brady the sum found due to him on settlement by the Building Committee.  The Building Committee was authorized to purchase carpet to cover the elevated platform of the Chapel.  In addition, ladies were selected to secure men for preaching service by city: Mrs. Willis B. Hale - Cleveland, Mrs. [John Prouty or Jonas Mann?] McCune and Mrs. [John Wallace or Stephen M.?] Fuller - Columbus, Mrs. [William D.?] Graves - Dayton, Mrs. Epaphras Lord Barber- Detroit, Mrs. Benjamin H. Whitney - Grand Rapids (Michigan), Mrs. [James Scott or Oliver?] Rodgers - Norwalk and Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey and Mrs. Charles T. Lewis - Toledo.”

From the Report of the Secretary [Mrs. Frederick B. Dodge] dated August 7, 1882: “Early in the Spring of 1882, the necessity of raising a few hundred dollars more than had been already subscribed became apparent, and with very little effort the required sum was obtained.  On the evening of July 4th, the Chapel Building was formally delivered by the builder, Mr. Brady to the Trustees of the Chapel Association and accepted by them.  On Sunday, July 8th, the first services were held in the new building.  Dedicatory services were conducted by Rev. Colonel Anderson [of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Toledo], ably seconded by [a] volunteer choir, under the direction of [Middle Bass Club member] William H. Currier, Esq.  The Chapel is now completed and entirely free from debt, as will be shown in the report of the Treasurer of the Association.”  It is important to emphasize, the 1881-1882 Middle Bass Club members paid for the construction of the Chapel.

During the Trustee Meeting that followed the 1882 Annual Meeting, it was decided that “an annual fee of fifty cents be solicited from each member, the sum to form a contingent fund.”

From the Report of the Secretary [Miss Pamela Berdan] dated August 6, 1883:  “The Annual Meeting of last year found the Chapel opened and free of debt and since that time, service of some kind has been held nearly every Sunday during the summer.  The children, until the first of September called them to their homes, gathered there for their Sunday School, under the leadership of Mr. Thomas C. Rowland [Middle Bass Club member], and the first of July found them again assembled.  Mr. Wilson W. Griffith [Middle Bass Club member] acting as presiding officer for a few Sundays, during the absence of the Superintendent.  This service, though designed for children and therefore simple in the character, has often attracted those of a more advanced age, whose presence and the help of whose voices in the singing has always been welcome.  Less success has crowned the efforts of those who have endeavored to fill our pulpit, owing partly to the fact that last year, the freeing of the Chapel from debt exhausted the treasury, which was not replenished this year, in time to complete the necessary arrangements.  It may not be amiss to state here, that the fee of fifty cents, which has been solicited each year from members of the Club, is devoted to this purpose.  The pulpit, however, has not been entirely vacant.  On the twentieth of last August, Rev. Colonel Andersen of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Toledo delivered an eloquent discourse both morning and evening and the Friday previous, delighted an audience in the Chapel by his lecture entitled “Bent,” the proceeds of which were for the benefit of the ministers’ fund.  In September, the evangelist, Mr. Williams of Columbus, while visiting friends here, kindly consented to hold service on Sunday and two weeks ago, Dr. Byers, Secretary of the Ohio State Board of Charities, gave in the afternoon in his own inimitable manner, what he denominated a talk.  In connection with our Chapel and as an outgrowth of it, we count the pleasant custom, originating with this year, of assembling Sunday evening in the Club House parlor where old and young, led by the trained voices always found among the guests, join in singing hymns of praise to the common Father of us all.  We also wish to return thanks to Mrs. Charles R. Messenger [Middle Bass Club member], who kindly donated a large bible for the desk and above all, to Mr. William H. Currier [Middle Bass Club member] who each year, has most generously given us the use of a fine piano.  Though little has been accomplished the past year, yet a beginning has been made and we think it cannot be said now, as truly as it was a few years ago that at Middle Bass there were seven days in the week, but no Sabbath among them.” 

The only photograph we have of Middle Bass Club Chapel (from the Dr. Martin Taliak Personal Collection) is shown below.  We believe that Rev. Henry E. Cooke from Gibraltar Island is pictured in front of the Chapel .  Most likely the photograph was taken in 1891 when Rev. Henry E. Cooke led services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel. 

Middle Bass Chapel, Architect: E.O. Fallis. Located in William Rehberg's 2nd Addition, Lot 45. Dedicated on July 4, 1882 with the first church service held on July 8, 1882. From the Chapel Committee records book: "The need of a Chapel, on Middle Bass Island having been recognized by many members of the Middle Bass Club, a meeting of persons interested in the erection of such a building, to be used for religious and literary purposes - was held at the cottage of Mrs. D. H. Mears on the 10th day of August - 1881..."

Unfortunately, the Middle Bass Club Chapel does not exist today for unknown reasons; the building burned or was torn down because it fell into disrepair.  The empty Chapel lot is currently owned by the Grosser and Hovsepian families.  Thus, “Chapel Glass” is the only remnant of the Middle Bass Club Chapel that exists today.  The brightly colored, very thin glass came from the Chapel’s stained glass windows.  With luck, “Chapel Glass” can still be found deep in the dirt where the Chapel once stood.

Chapel Glass (i.e., remnants of stained glass windows from the Middle Bass Club Chapel) collected by the Demer, Grosser, Michael and Rader families.  Photo taken by Marie Demer Rader, Summer 2021

After dedicating the Chapel, the Building Committee disbanded, and the ladies of the Middle Bass Club Chapel Association managed the Chapel building and its programs.  The Middle Bass Chapel Association had three main responsibilities:

  • The Chapel Building (Maintenance & Improvement)
  • The Pulpit (Ministers & Supplies)
  • The Money (Raising funds to maintain the Chapel building and to pay for the religious, literary and scientific programs)