The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

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Patten Chapel Exterior to be Repaired
by Rebekah Bonney, University Relations Intern

People passing by John A. Patten Chapel may have noticed a little extra dust, a few people wearing facemasks, and a whole lot of scaffolding. The chapel, a historical landmark in the Chattanooga community, is undergoing a badly needed facelift.

Patten Chapel was built in 1917 and gifted to the University in 1919 by Edith Manker Patten and her children. According to Janet Spraker, Director of Engineering Services at UTC, the mortar between the bricks of the historic chapel had almost turned to sand in some places, structurally weakening the building. The renovation was necessary to prevent the walls from slowly “crumbling to the ground”.

Patten Chapel is one of two major restoration projects underway this summer. The other project is the Development House’s exterior. Funding for the two projects is provided primarily with state funding under the “Repairs to Building Exteriors” program.

“UTC is the first to get exterior repairs paid for by the government,” Spraker said. “We have led the way for other colleges to apply for funding.”

In the early years, Patten Chapel was the site of honor convocations, commencements, performances, and it is still a popular site for weddings.
Phyllis Patten and James E. Abshire were the first to be married inside its historical walls.

Since then, it has been the chapel of choice for hundreds of weddings each year. The restoration will not interfere with ceremonies held inside Patten Chapel, but the exterior may be less than photogenic.

According to Spraker, there will be piles of sand, scaffolding, and clouds of dust around the chapel through the duration of the renovation. Yellow caution tape is being used to cordon the area.

Williams Restoration will do the bulk of the work on Patten Chapel. According to Daniel Martin, Foreman for Williams Restoration, most of the renovation will focus on the mortar between the bricks.

First, the walls will be pressure-washed to remove any dirt, moss or mold. Next, the mortar will have to be dug out from between Patten Chapel’s bricks to a three-quarters inch depth. Once the new mortar has been matched in color and consistency to the original, it will be applied in three separate layers until flush with the brick surface. The entire process is called tuck-pointing. Williams Restoration will also be re-painting the windows and caulking the purpose, or border stone, of Patten Chapel.

The Patten Chapel restoration is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2005.