Free Tours of St. Peterís Chapel, Silent Auction, and Art Show on Mare Islandís Daffodil Tea Weekend

St. Peterís Chapel will be open to the public free of charge 11:30am-12:30pm and 2:30-3:30pm Saturday, April 9, and Sunday, April 10. Since the U.S. Navy closed its naval shipyard in Vallejo in 1996,

Published: April, 2005

St. Peter’s Chapel will be open to the public free of charge 11:30am-12:30pm and 2:30-3:30pm Saturday, April 9, and Sunday, April 10. Since the U.S. Navy closed its naval shipyard in Vallejo in 1996, St Peter’s Chapel, the nation’s oldest naval chapel, has been managed by the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that rents the chapel for private weddings and other ceremonies, and group tours conducted by appointment. Organizers of the Daffodil Tea, a fund-raiser to benefit St. Peter’s Chapel, have rented the chapel from the Foundation for a special Chapel program offered as part of the Daffodil Tea. By making the Chapel available for free for a period of time each of the two days, they hope to start a new trend that allows public access to the Chapel at no cost for certain services. Free access to the Chapel will allow a greater number of the public to see its priceless collection of Tiffany stained-glass windows and to experience the beauty and uniqueness of the Chapel, which served as a Navy memorial and is a key component of the Mare Island National Historic Landmark.

Tea volunteers anticipate that exposure to the Chapel will help broaden the public’s understanding of its importance to American history and draw attention to the needs of the century-old building. They hope to generate goodwill, as well as regional, state, and national support for the Chapel’s restoration. While many of the volunteers who host the Daffodil Tea do not have direct ties to the organization in charge of the Chapel’s management, many volunteer for both organizations.

In 1901, $5,000 of American taxpayer’s money was used to build the non-denominational chapel. The congregation donated $50 for the architect’s plans. The furnishings, the memorial plaques, and the windows were paid for with privately donated funds, including money from military families, and even pennies from Bay Area school children. The Chapel’s 29 stained-glass windows were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany–sixteen are signed “Tiffany Studios” and constitute one of the largest collections of Tiffany windows under one roof west of the Mississippi River. The windows are valued at approximately $25 million.

Proceeds from this year’s Daffodil Tea will launch The Campaign to Preserve and Restore St. Peter’s Chapel. The committee’s goal is to raise $1 million for the Chapel’s repairs and restoration. The committee believes that although funds from many sources will be available for the preservation of such an important American landmark, strong local support will inspire and rally others throughout the country. Many congregations raise money for the preservation and restoration of their church. These churches are fortunate to have defined congregations. St. Peter’s Chapel lacks this traditional support base. Chaplain Wallace Whatley, a retired Navy Chaplain who served at St. Peter’s Chapel, is the Daffodil Tea Committee’s current president. He states, “It is the Tea committee’s contention that as a National Historic Landmark, the Chapel belongs to each of us, and that therefore we must step forward and act as the Chapel’s surrogate parishioners. Each of us must do our part to preserve and restore this precious American treasure.”

From 10am-4:30pm each day, the public is welcome to the Tea’s silent auction and fine art show, both set up on the grounds of Quarters C and D, two of the historic “Captain’s Row” mansions where the Tea is held. BLOOMZ: Daffodil Tea Still Life Art Exhibit will depict and celebrate spring flowers and floral still life. A percentage of each sale of art by participating artists will be donated to the preservation and restoration campaign. The Daffodil Tea Committee was formed in 1999 with the mission to raise money to preserve and restore the century-old chapel. Funds from the first two teas were used to purchase new carpeting and pew cushions. The proceeds from last year’s Tea are earmarked for a technical report that identifies deficiencies in the Chapel’s condition.

Daffodil Tea seatings: 12 Noon and 3:00pm. Chapel programs and music each day at 10am and 1pm. Saturday: Dalt Williams Trio, jazz and vocal ensemble; Sunday: Carillon Handbell Choir.

Admission by prepurchased tickets only. $25 donation for Chapel Program and Tea. Tickets available through April 8th at the Vallejo Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, 495 Mare Island Way, Vallejo. For ticket purchase by credit card, call (707) 642-3653. For ticket purchase by mail with check or money order, call (707) 645-8003 or (707) 649-9464. Tax-deductible donations to The Campaign to Preserve and Restore St. Peter’s Chapel may be sent to Arc Ecology, P.O. Box 2252, Mare Island, CA 94592.

Please note: St. Peter’s Chapel and mansion tours are available to any reporter or photographer covering this event. Call Myrna Hayes, (707) 557-9816 or (707) 319-1886 (cell) to schedule.