Historic Treasure and Community Gathering Place
In 1896, brothers and local land owners Frank and Henry Wallace dedicated land on Chapel Drive for the building of a non-denominational Chapel to serve the summer residents of the newly-developed shoreline area named Pine Orchard. Plans to erect a Chapel were approved on July 4,1896. One year later, on July 4, 1897, the Queen-Anne style chapel was completed.
The original cost for the building was $1,532, with an additional cost of $125 to paint the exterior. Pine Orchard was a summer colony at the time, and the Chapel was built solely for summer services, which took place at 4pm every Sunday. With no resident minister, area ministers came from neighboring towns to lead services and Sunday school.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, a Pine Orchard family would host a student minister from the Yale Divinity School for the summer. In exchange for running a day camp for children and delivering a weekly sermon, the student’s living expenses were covered.
According to town historian Jane Bouley, the Chapel was closed for services in 1963, but the local community came together to continue using the building for community activities, including summer camps, concerts, meetings, parades, children's activities, memorial services, and weddings. It has been a tradition for residents of Pine Orchard to make the Chapel their matrimonial setting. The Chapel is available to anyone for a small rental fee.
In 2020, residents kicked off an ambitious effort to restore the Chapel to its original glory. The building was in dire need of structural support, repairs, and beautification. During the historic COVID-19 pandemic, friends and neighbors joined together to provide expertise, funding, and other resources. More than $1 million was raised toward the restoration, which was completed in 2022. The Chapel was rededicated on July 4, 2022, exactly 125 years after its original dedication in 1897.
The Chapel continues to be used for weddings, memorial services, parties, concerts, and more. Rental fees help to maintain the grounds, and supporters provide voluntary contributions to cover expenses necessary to preserve the 125+ year-old building. The Chapel truly represents a community effort - bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together to share in fun and fellowship. Join us at the Chapel for your special day.
THE PINE ORCHARD UNION CHAPEL
25 Chapel Drive
Branford, CT 06405
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Join us each July 4th (rain or shine) for the annual Pine Orchard Union Chapel Parade. All are welcome and encouraged to wear costumes and decorate bikes, golf carts, wagons and scooters.
Parade steps off at 9:00am sharp.
Board of Directors
Melodie Lane O'Connor