Jean Wiman (from left), Susan Beaman and Kathy Perkins, members of the fundraising committee and chapel trustees. They said they need to sell 1,400 bricks to fill the walkway. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

PHIPPSBURG — A small group of Phippsburg residents is raising money to repair the Popham Chapel by selling memorial bricks that will form a walkway to the chapel’s front door.

The funds also will be used to throw a three-day celebration next August to mark the chapel’s 125th anniversary. Susan Beaman, fundraising committee member and chapel trustee, said the festivities will include an art show, silent auction, walkway dedication and vow renewals for couples who got married at the chapel.

Personal messages or dedications can be etched into the bricks.

Beaman said the committee needs to sell 1,400 bricks by the end of May to build the walkway. So far, the committee has sold about 90.

“Clearly we have a long way to go,” said Kathy Perkins, fundraising committee member and chapel trustee.

Bricks come in two sizes — 4 inches by 8 inches and 8 inches by 8 inches — and cost $75 and $150, respectively.

The bricks being sold to support Popham Chapel come in two sizes, 4 inches by 8 inches and 8 inches by 8 inches, and can be inscribed with a personal message or dedication. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Beaman said the group doesn’t have a fundraising goal, but simply “hopes to make a profit, that would be nice.”

“The chapel always needs repairs and with the coronavirus pandemic, there are fewer and fewer people coming to services and so the contributions are less and less this year,” said Perkins, who estimated about 50 families frequent the chapel. “We need to keep the chapel in tip-top shape because on several occasions it has almost gone under, but people have always rallied and supported it.”

According to Perkins, a hurricane in the 1920s damaged the chapel’s facade and the building fell into serious disrepair during World War II, but on both occasions churchgoers organized fundraisers to repair the seasonal chapel, which seats about 100 people.

“It’s near and dear to all of us,” said Beaman. “My grandparents were trustees, then my parents, so we just want to keep the chapel going. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a labor of love.”

Although fundraisers have aided in various repairs over nearly 125 years, fundraisers are also responsible for the chapel’s inception.

According to Beaman, a group of five women living around Popham Beach met in different homes for regular services, but in 1892 they decided the community needed an all-denominations chapel.

“This group of women put on fish chowder suppers, baked bean suppers, anything to make some money in order to start the project,” said Beaman. “They accumulated about $40, which at the time was a lot of money, and that’s what they used to buy their first bundle of lumber to build it.”

Today, the chapel requires constant upkeep, usually funded by a Popham Circle, a small group of women who hold fundraisers and community events to raise money for the repairs. Next on the list to repair is a portion of the chapel’s foundation, according to Jean Wiman, fundraising committee member and chapel trustee.

Beaman said she won’t know how much the foundation repairs will cost until the project begins.

The brick walkway will stretch from the chapel’s front door, around the side of the building, and end at the chapel parking lot behind the building. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Aside from offering a place of worship for people passing through on vacation, Wiman said the Chapel and Chapel House, a refurbished residential home next door now used as a community space,  act as an anchor for the community.

“Everything that is done at the Popham Chapel and the chapel house is for the community and to bring people together,” she said. “Chapel House acts as a community center. Artists meet here to paint, a yoga class is held here, and the upstairs is available to local families to stay if their home was damaged by a fire or flood. We exist for the community.”

“With the size of our village, when you walk into the church and you know everyone … it’s just an uplifting feeling,” said Beaman. “It brings everyone together with a united purpose.”

“And when brides walk out that front door on their wedding day and see Atkins Bay right across the street, it’s just magic,” added Perkins.

Bricks can be purchased by calling Perkins at (207) 389-1631 or filling out a brick order form at Pophamchapel.org.

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