A renovated cupola was restored onto the Saint Nicholas Chapel in Kenai, Alaska on Aug. 29, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Saint Nicholas Chapel gets renovation

Saint Nicholas Chapel in Old Town Kenai, located right next to Veronica’s Cafe and across the street from the larger Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church, is receiving a significant renovation this week, with the installation of a rebuilt and restored cupola.

The cupola is the distinct dome structure on the top of the building, above which is an ornate cross.

Father Peter Tobias said that the renovation is just the latest in an extensive restoration project of the multiple historic Russian Orthodox structures in the area.

He said that the cupola was removed from the chapel in the winter, and restoration was done by two craftsmen at Blazy Construction, Russ Guernsey and Nick Stienessen.

The restoration took all of the summer because Blazy was busy with other projects, but Tobias said they did a “fantastic job.”

The entire onion dome was rebuilt, but the decorative cross at the top is the original, made more resistant to the elements and attached to the dome by a decorative ball.

Restoration of the Russian Orthodox buildings in Old Town Kenai began in 2008. Tobias said a couple of million dollars have been spent on repairs and renovations since then.

“We replaced the roof on the temple with new cedar shakes and painted them with linseed oil to the earliest known color. We also redid the cupolas and crosses on the main church building,” he said.

Blazy also did the cupolas on the large building, which Tobias said made it easy to work with them again on the current project.

Saint Nicholas Chapel also received some work on the logs that make up the exterior of the building. Tobias said that a couple of craftsmen came and tore out the rotten logs and hand-hewed some new ones.

Funding for the renovations comes via grants from multiple sources, including the City of Kenai, the Kenai Historical Society, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America, the Alaska Historical Commission and others.

For this renovation of the cupola, the majority of funds were donated by a Russian Orthodox foundation who wish to remain anonymous, according to treasurer Dorothy Gray. Contributions from the Kenai Historical Society were also used for this project.

Though the cupola on Saint Nicholas Chapel was installed Monday, Tobias said that Blazy will still be working on the structure and implementing some “finishing touches” until Wednesday.

Further renovations to the chapel will also be implemented next summer, including additional log work and repairs to the fence that surrounds the building.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com

A renovated cupola was restored onto the Saint Nicholas Chapel in Kenai, Alaska on Aug. 29, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
A renovated cupola was restored onto the Saint Nicholas Chapel in Kenai, Alaska on Aug. 29, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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