BY SABRINA LEE
The little chapel that sits on a small hill just outside of the Hill AFB Museum has borne witness to thousands of weddings, funerals, testimonies of faith, and gatherings over the last 80 years. Hill Field Chapel was built in 1942 and is the oldest building at Hill Field Air Force Base. This small chapel served as a place of worship for multiple religious groups. Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant services were all held in the chapel. In 1943, the Naval Base officers and enlisted men began attending services there. It’s use expanded to the surrounding community of Clearfield in 1943, when the Clearfield Latter Day Saint Ward started holding services there.
In May 1945, during Catholic services, a fire broke out. The inside of the chapel was a complete loss. The fire caused $10,000 worth of damage. All religious services were temporarily moved to the theater, and a complete renovation of the building took place. In 1948, the chapel was remodeled, and continued to be a place of worship to multiple religious denominations. And over the next 20 years, was a silent witness to thousands of more weddings, funerals, and celebrations. A new chapel was put into use on base in 1964. The original chapel then served as an education building and office space.
Set for demolition in 1984, the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah funded the relocation to the museum grounds and restoration efforts. The chapel would be restored to its WWII appearance. This was no small task. The renovations and saving of the chapel were spear headed by Col. Nathan H. Mazer. Col. Mazer was a WWII veteran, chairman of the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah, longtime volunteer at museum, and played an integral role in saving the chapel.
Restoration was completed in 1989. A rededication ceremony took place, making the Hill Field Chapel a permanent part of the museum grounds and to serve as a memorial park, and opening it to the community again for use. However, since the chapel was removed from its original place on base and is not tied to any one historical event or person, it is not eligible for the national register.
Col. Mazer passed away in 2006. In 2001, for his role in the saving of the chapel, it was renamed in after him in a dedication ceremony. Today, the Col. Nathan Mazer Chapel sits just outside the base gates on museum grounds with a park setting surrounding it. Visitors can walk around the grounds and inside the chapel and read commemorative plaques and monuments that have been place as memorials to individuals, groups and organizations. As with all historic buildings, upkeep is always needed. The museum and base administration realize the historic significance the chapel represents to the community. Hill AFB announced on February 1st in an article on their website, that exterior renovations to make “the chapel more visually appealing and historical” has been funded by grants. The 80-year-old chapel will receive the care it needs, and continue to serve the community.
Photos used with permission from the Hill AFB Public Relation Office.
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