Forgotten SLC treasure bringing community together

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SALT LAKE CITY - People from diverse backgrounds are coming together to save a nearly-forgotten treasure in downtown Salt Lake City.

Inside the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center lies a beautiful, old chapel in need of repair. Designed by the same architect behind the Cathedral of the Madeleine, the Holy Cross Chapel has been a part of the Salt Lake community for more than a century.

Enter the chapel, and you know this is a place where people find peace. For more than 135 years, many have prayed for loved ones here. It has seen weddings and funerals and hospital patients of different faiths still gather for weekly services.

Wanting to preserve that going forward into future generations, we felt that it would be a great idea to involve the community, to have that ownership.

–Jeff Frandsen

"It's a wonderful place as a reminder of a spiritual connection that we all have with the divine and then with each other," said Debra Hampton, Salt Lake Regional's chaplain.

It was originally part of Holy Cross Hospital, established in 1875 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. It was one of the first hospitals in the Salt Lake Valley. The chapel was named to the state historic registry in 1976.

A mural, painted in 1909, tells the story of the beauty and reverence of the chapel. But it also indicates the chapel's current state of deterioration.

The interior renovation would include the wall mural restoration, cleaning and repair of the art glass in 11 historic windows, new lighting, plumbing, electrical and earthquake proofing.

On the exterior, crews would waterproof the foundation walls and belfry and repair the masonry.

"Wanting to preserve that going forward into future generations, we felt that it would be a great idea to involve the community, to have that ownership," said Salt Lake Regional CEO Jeff Frandsen.

Many in the community and beyond have special feelings about the chapel. Kim Wilson is chairman of the Historic Holy Cross Chapel Foundation.

"This chapel was a place of refuge for me and my family during a very sensitive time in our lives," he said.

Wilson's first wife, Vicky, spent the last several months of her life in Holy Cross Hospital.

"I sought out an opportunity to try to be a part of saving it and perpetuating its use, for hopefully another century or more," he said.

The historic Holy Cross Chapel Foundation has a $1.1 million goal for renovations. Since it has been part of the broader community for so long, foundation members hope donations will come from people of all faiths.


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