memorial chapel

Historical Restoration-The Beginning

We have been asked to help restore parts of a beautiful Memorial Chapel (now a home) in the Lake Charm community. Sladek before 054

Below is a little history on the chapel, the area, and what is now the home itself, along with photos of the old porch and the work on the new area.

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Long before people traveled to Central Florida to visit Disney World, they traveled to Oviedo to visit Lake Charm, a community founded by New York’s Dr. Henry Foster as a place for people to come and bolster their health. Though most of the buildings of that era are no longer here, Lake Charm Memorial Chapel continues to stand strong.

Built in 1880, the structure is constructed entirely of wood. The interior floor and walls were originally coated entirely in heart pine, and the original siding was 12 inch old-growth cypress. Even the original foundation is made of petrified cypress rounds.

The Chapel was originally a non-denominational church that held services on Sunday afternoons, so as not to interfere with the morning services of local churches. Pastors from churches up north would come to Oviedo to enjoy a sabbatical and teach and preach to each other at the chapel.

The last church service was held in the 1920s and was actually the funeral of Mrs. Foster. After that, the home served as a hippie commune, a rental house, and finally a private residence to several long-time owners. The front porch is believed to have been added in the 1940s, and the side porch was added in the 1960s. Neither had a roof until the 1980s, when the the owners purposefully added a structurally unsound roof to the side porch, thinking that improper workmanship would help them avoid paying increased taxes for having made the porch more pleasant with the shade.

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Since then, all owners of the home who could be reached for an interview report having returned home at least once to discover a person sitting on the side porch, claiming to be waiting for the church to open.

“We just invited them in to check things out and learn more about Oviedo’s history,” said Megan Sladek, who lives at the chapel now. “There is so much you can learn from an old building, and we feel like we are just temporary stewards of this place.”

The porch started out as an open-topped lattice room, then a roof was added, the lattice cut to only 4 feet high, and eventually, the entire porch was screened in.

“I can’t remember if I sliced the screen off before my son was born or when I was in labor. We set up a big kiddie pool on the side porch when our son was born and Paul ran a hose from the water heater, out the back door, and into the tub. He was born in September, and I could think of no better place to have a baby at the time.”

The side porch has also hosted a Woman’s Club luncheon, 9 St. Patrick’s Day parties, lots of craft projects, and many family gatherings.

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We are currently demolishing the old porch, it's condition had deteriorated so much that it was time. Our project includes new decking, new porch, a metal roof to coordinate with the roof of the house, and railing on the front deck.

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Stick around and we'll show you the progress and how it all turned out!