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Belmont Chapel Preservation Endowment Fund
By Jean Cohoon / February 27, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...
The August Belmont Memorial Chapel has commanded a dominant presence at the Island Cemetery in Newport since its construction in 1886. The gothic revival style chapel was a gift to the citizenry of Newport by its benefactors Mr. and Mrs. August Belmont, Sr.

Over the last four decades, the chapel has fallen into severe disrepair; there are holes in the roof and many of the stained glass windows are in need of repair. Completely encapsulated in a veil of overgrown wisteria, the chapel has been hidden from view during the summer months.

In 2012, three preservation-minded individuals – Robert W. Currier, Harry J. Eudenbach, and James L. Yarnall, Ph.D. – approached the Island Cemetery with a proposition to save the chapel from further deterioration and ultimate demise. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of the Belmont Chapel Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. A 99-year curatorship and occupancy agreement was established between the Belmont Chapel Foundation and the Island Cemetery Company.

Most recently, the wisteria vines that had shielded the chapel from view for many years have been removed. Board member Harry Eudenbach states, "When you visit the cemetery today, you see visitors looking at the chapel as they have not been able to do for decades".

"The chapel is a little piece of Newport history, and we are committed to preserving it for future generations," Harry says. The board envisions that, once renovated, the chapel could serve as an education center/museum for the cemetery where lectures, concerts, and other events could be held.

The foundation has established the Belmont Chapel Preservation Endowment Fund to ensure the chapel never again falls into a precarious state. "The Rhode Island Foundation is a wonderful organization with a great reputation. If I were to give money for the chapel, I would prefer to give to the endowment, so that my gift would help preserve the chapel forever", Harry says, hoping others will share his passion for this "little piece of Newport history".
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