By Michael Turton
New York’s marital landscape was changed forever, when on June 24, 2011, the State Legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. New York became the sixth and largest state to do so. The Chapel Restoration became the first local organization to welcome the change when earlier this month, the non-profit, non-denominational organization issued a press release announcing that it will host same-sex weddings. The release states, “The legalization of same sex weddings”¦supports our mission to serve all people and provide a place where everyone is welcome. The chapel has hosted scores of weddings in the more than three decades since its restoration and now happily extends our welcome to all who wish to celebrate their marriage in a very special location.”
Contacted by Philipstown.info, Gail Greet Hannah, a Chapel Restoration board member said, “The board “¦takes seriously our stewardship of this important historic building and our responsibility to make it available for music, cultural programs and celebrations of significant events. It is now our privilege to offer same sex couples the opportunity to celebrate their marriages in the beautiful landmark that has been the site of so many meaningful experiences for so many people.”
It may also be good marketing on the part of the Chapel Restoration, which charges for weddings. Gay couples will be able to officially tie the knot beginning on July 24. In New York City, demand for same sex weddings to be held on that date is so great that a lottery system will be used to determine which ceremonies will take place then. Hannah said no firm dates for a same sex wedding have been set for the Chapel Restoration, but there have been inquiries and she expects the first contract to be signed soon. Public sentiment regarding same-sex marriage has changed considerably in recent years. An article in the New York Times on June 24, stated that polls showed that between 2004 and 2011 the number of New York State residents who supported allowing same sex marriage increased from 37 to 58 percent.
The chapel was built in 1833 and was dedicated as Cold Spring’s first Catholic church the following year, serving that purpose until 1906. It sat empty, was damaged in a fire in 1927 and was in a state of disrepair until 1971. Including a quote from a New York Sunday News article from that year, the Chapel Restoration’s website states, ” ‘A Methodist, a Lutheran, a Jew, a Presbyterian or two, a scattering of Episcopalians and a handful of Catholics’, including actress Helen Hayes, came together, to buy it from the Archdiocese and undertake its restoration.” It was dedicated as an ecumenical site in 1977 and is now listed on National Register of Historic Places. The Chapel Restoration is available for events from April through November. It is located on Cold Spring’s waterfront across from the Metro-North station. For more information, go to http://www.chapelrestoration.org/.
Photo by M. Turton