125-year-old church gets new home

Church moving back to original location

Published On: Jun 17 2012 04:17:42 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 18 2012 12:17:22 AM EDT

Built more than 125 years ago, a historic Neptune Beach chapel was picked up and moved to its new home on Beach Boulevard Sunday.

Thousands of weddings were celebrated, family members mourned and Sunday sermons preached under the shingled roof and vaulted ceiling of the St. Paul's By-the-Sea Beaches Chapel in its more than a century long history. Many said they were sad to see the church being moved, but said it was better than seeing it get destroyed.

PHOTOS: Historic church moves to new home

"I would go by it every morning to go to work, and when I saw them lifting it up, my heart just broke because I didn't know what they were going to do with it," Mirna Downing said.

Last year a campaign called "Save the Chapel" helped raise money to move the historic landmark from its location on Florida Boulevard in Neptune Beach to the Beaches Museum and History Park in Jacksonville Beach.

"I know everybody at the chapel is sorry to see it go," church member Larry Moore said. "It's a real beautiful building on the inside. It will be something we can come see when we want to, when they get it in place."

Historians said many years ago the chapel resided in Pablo Beach, the area that is now known as Jacksonville Beach—so its move is kind of like a homecoming.

"This is really something special. It used to be an Episcopal missionary church. It has changed location twice before but now it's coming home to Jacksonville Beach where it used to stand in the old days," Maarten Van de Guchte, the executive director of Beaches Museum and History Park said. "We're also going to reconstruct what used to be the bell tower, so it's going to be very distinctive."

Once the chapel is in its new home, it will reopen for weddings, baptisms, meetings and Sunday services.