Historic Tahoe City outdoor chapel to be sold
Members of Tahoe City’s St. Nicholas Episcopal Church are saying goodbye to the 110-year-old Outdoor Chapel, as the diocese that oversees the church is selling the property.
“A church is very important. It’s part of your life. This is our church and to us it’s like a death,” said Ann Bryant, a member of the vestry of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California is now selling the Camp Noel Porter property at 855 W. Lake Blvd. in Tahoe City to a Christian organization that plans to continue use of the site as a Christian camp, according to the diocese Communications Director Jay Elmquist.
In addition to hosting actual services, the church grounds were previously used as a children’s camp, but enrollment had been steadily dropping over the past decade, according to Bryant.
For the past four years the church has been without a full-time priest who also served as an administrator for the children’s camp, which led the church to shut down the camp.
“We understand that this is a hard and difficult news, but the church building is tied to the property and can’t be separated,” said Elmquist. He said the organization has promised to maintain the Chapel of the Transfiguration, better known as the Outdoor Chapel, which is registered in the National Registry of Historic Buildings.
Plans to sell the church have been in the works for three years, as it was no longer sustainable, Elmquist said. The board of trustees determined that as a diocese they did not have the infrastructure or resources to maintain a camp and conference center of that caliber any longer.
“The standing committee, the board of trustees, and Bishop Beisner believe this is the best decision for our diocese at this time,” he said.
While other offers had been made on the property, Elmquist said those offers and negotiations did not result in assurances the property would continue to be used as a Christian camp.
“This sale offers us the opportunity for this property to continue as a Christian camp to the glory of God,” he said.
Though talks of selling the property have been in the work for three years, Bryant said she expected the diocese to notify them sooner as they had already booked priests for Sunday services all the way through October. In addition they had begun booking weddings for the summer at the outdoor chapel.
“It’s been a three-year process in which those parishioners were included in the talks and the understanding of what was going on,” said Elmquist.
St. Nicholas was founded in 1958 when the current facility was purchased from the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, following requests from local residents for a permanent church in Tahoe City. About 40 years later the building was expanded to seat 120 people. The church will hold its last Eucharist on April 28, at 9:30 a.m., followed by a meeting with the diocese about the parishioners options moving forward.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.