Decker's Chapel Revitalization Project 2015

Deckers Chapel


A few years after settling in St. Marys, a deeply religious man named Michael Decker fell from a tree in his orchard and injured his back. He vowed to build and maintain a chapel if the injury healed, and in the course of a year or two he had recuperated enough to fulfill his promise. The Little Chapel was built in 1856.

For years neighbors gathered nightly especially during the Lenten season to recite the Rosary. During the First World War, the Catholic Mothers with sons in the Armed Forces made pilgrimages there to offer up prayers for the safety of their loved ones.

Before his death, Monsignor Michael J. Decker deeded the property to Betty Decker, a descendant of the Decker Family.

The chapel stood on the Decker property and in 1928 the St. Marys Assembly Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus became custodians of the Chapel and restored it back to its original beauty. The K of C erected a Memorial in memory of Monsignor Michael J. Decker made of native stone quarried from Boot Jack in Ridgway.

In 1955 he Chapel was lit for the first time. The Fourth Degree Assembly who had been custodians for more than 25 years had a line run from the borough lines and decreed that the lights shall be on every night.

In 1990 the Chapel was gifted to the Elk County Historical Society by the Schneider Family, descendants of the Decker Family. The Elk County Historical Society had the building painted and any repairs that were needed were done.

In 1998 the Elk County Historical Society successfully had the Chapel added to the National Register of Historical Places.

Decker’s Chapel has been called the smallest church in the United States. Its visitor’s book includes names from not just around the country but around the world. 


Decker's Chapel Current Situation

  • The foundation is crumbling beneath the Chapel and it is literally falling into the ground.
  • The sidewalks are cracked and crumbling, and require replacing.
  • The parking lot area requires re-graveling and redefining.
  • The outside of the Chapel requires some boards being replaced, scraping, priming, and painting.
  • The door to the Chapel needs to be replaced.
  • The windows require re-glazing and new sills.
  • The floors inside need to be stripped and refinished.
  • The Chapel requires a new handicap ramp.
  • The inside of the Chapel requires some cosmetic repairs of cracks in the walls, and painting of the walls, ceiling, kneelers, and altar.
  • There is no landscaping since all the overgrowth of the old landscaping had to be pulled out due to infiltration of their root system. A whole new landscaping plan will be required. 


Our Plan

Phase 1:

The foundation and drainage issue

  • A quote of $10,000 has already been obtained and accepted by Steger Masonry.

Phase 2:

  • Replacing Sidewalks
  • Re-graveling & Redefining Parking Lot
  • Replacing Door
  • Re-glazing Windows & New Sills
  • New Handicap Ramp
  • Stripping & Re-finishing Floors
  • Fixing Cosmetic Issues Inside
  • Painting Inside Walls, Ceiling, Kneelers, & Altar
  • New Landscaping Around Chapel
  • Meditation Area: Includes Benches, Memorial Pavers, St. Francis Statue, Mary Statue
  • Sustainability

Proposed Funding:

Phase 1 –

  • A grant for the full amount of $10,000 has been received from the Stackpole Hall-Foundation

Phase 2 --

  • Apply for other grant money
  • Business Donations
  • Private Donations

Any money raised above and beyond what would be used on the project will be put aside in a separate account and used for the sustainability of Decker’s Chapel. 



If you prefer to donate using a PayPal account or credit card, please click donate below. You will be redirected to PayPal where you can securely check out.  


if you prefer to donate using a check, please make checks payable to the Elk County Historical Society. Please note "Decker's Chapel" in the memo portion of your check. 

Checks can be dropped off at Stoltz Ford in Saint Marys, or
Mailed to: 
Elk County Historical Society, 109 Center Street, Ridgway PA 15853


About Your Donation

The Elk County Historical Society is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. 

All donations are tax deductible. 

Each donor will receive a thank you letter with the following statement for your tax purposes: "No goods or services were received for this donation per section (f) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Elk County Historical Society is a tax-exempt charity under the IRS code section 501(c)3, tax ID# 75-0797200."

All money collected will be used for Decker's Chapel only. 

All donors will be recognized in a special way; either in a memorial book or plaque to be permanently placed inside the chapel upon completion of the project. 



If you have any questions, please contact: 

Steve Stoltz, fundraising coordinator - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mary Kalinwoski, executive director, ECHS - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Contact Us

32 South St. Marys Street, Suite 1
"The Franklin Center"
Saint Marys, PA 15857

Office: (814) 834-1555
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