Congregation wants to preserve Walter Reed chapel

Members of the congregation of the memorial chapel located on the grounds of Walter Reed Army Medical Center are concerned about the chapel’s fate once the Army hospital closes in September.

According to the Army’s public affairs department, the chapel is on land set to become property of the State Department. The state department said it's not known what will happen with its portion of the Walter Reed land.

Members of the congregation are fighting to save the memorial dedicated to men and women who died in service to the country.

“Everything in this chapel both externally and internally is a memorial,” said Peter Zawadsky, the director of liturgical music.

“It's especially sad that this, our home, may be torn down or not used again, “ said congregation member Daisy Bennett.

Members want the stone chapel with its striking stained-glass windows and gothic tower to become part of the national register of historic places. Zawadsky says he contacted the Pentagon office responsible for preserving significant historic buildings.

After World War I, the gray ladies of the American Red Cross called for a chapel on Walter Reed grounds, and raised $160,000 to build it. Congress gave the congregation permission to use the land.

For 80 years, the chapel has served the military community at Walter Reed, including those being treated at the hospital.

“We've been here 18 months while she's been undergoing treatment,” Dave Robling said, referring to his wife Sandy. “We hate to see this building go away.”

Zawadsky says knocking down the chapel would be an enormous loss. “I will not be able to bear that experience,” he said.

Congregation members are praying for a miracle. “I don't know what will happen, but that's what I've been praying for,” said the Rev. Joan Burrell.