A group of Phippsburg residents will hold a three-day celebration next week to mark the 125th anniversary of Popham Chapel, a small while church near Popham Beach.

The anniversary festival runs Aug. 4-6 and will include an art show featuring local artists, a food truck, silent auction and a concert by Kat Logan, the chapel’s pianist and guitar player. Maine’s First Ship, a project to build a replica 17th-century ship, “Virginia,” will also be on display, according to fundraising committee member and chapel trustee Susan Beaman.

Longtime Phippsburg residents will also share memories and stories of the area on Thursday at 3 p.m., and Beaman said audience participation is encouraged.

The following day, the chapel will welcome any couple who wishes to renew their marriage vows, regardless of whether they got married at the chapel.

Beaman said attendees can also bring something to put into a time capsule trustees will put together to be opened on the chapel’s 150th anniversary.

“People can add whatever they’d like to the capsule,” said Beaman, before referencing the pandemic: “Maybe someone will put in a mask.”

For nearly a year, a group of community members tasked with maintaining the chapel called the Popham Circle worked to fundraise for the event as well as necessary repairs to the building’s foundation. The group raised about $30,000 by selling over 400 bricks etched with names and messages that formed a walkway around the chapel.

Though the chapel seats roughly 100 people, the chapel and adjoining Chapel House has become a community center residents and annual visitors. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

While the foundation has been repaired and the walkway laid, the chapel requires constant upkeep, said Beaman. Next on the list is upgrading the chapel’s electricity wiring.

“It’s unsafe and hard to hear people speak through the microphones,” said Beaman. “The grounding of wires is inadequate and we don’t know how old the electrical system is.”

Construction on the chapel began in 1893 and finished in 1896, funded by contributions from year-round and summer residents, according to the chapel website. 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.

Throughout its life, the chapel has fallen into disrepair several times, but was brought back to life by community members and the Popham Circle.

According to fundraising committee member and chapel trustee Kathy Perkins, a hurricane in the 1920s damaged the chapel’s façade 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.

Aside from serving as a nondenominational place of worship, fundraising committee member and chapel trustee Richard Fay said the Chapel and adjoining Chapel House, a refurbished residential home next door now used as a community space, act as an anchor for the community. The Chapel House serves as a gathering place, welcoming everything from community classes to local residents who need a warm place to stay when their power goes out for days on end or their home is damaged.

“It’s the heart of the community,” said Beaman. “A lot of people have a vested interest in our chapel and keeping it up is part of who we all are. Even if you don’t go to services, it’s a community center aside from being a place of worship. We’d like to see the chapel stay in good repair and a place for the community.”

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