Love Is Love at the Village Chapel

BY JASON A. MICHAEL

The Village Chapel in Fowlerville dates back to 1891. It was built as the home of St. Agnes Catholic Church at the corner of Church and Maple Streets. But its time in its original structure was to be short lived. In May of 1909 a violent tornado tore off the roof and ripped through the church leaving it in shatters. Just five short months later, a new cornerstone was laid and the church was rebuilt a few blocks away.

"I have two cornerstones," said Karen Ryan, owner and manager of the chapel. "I have the new one and the one that blew away. Our walls are like three feet deep because they didn't want their brand new church to get blown away again by another tornado."

The new structure, situated at 123 S. Second Street, remained St. Agnes until the church sold it in 1974. It was purchased by a doctor and used for a time as a private residence. The building changed hands a few times and was once again being used as a wedding chapel when Ryan purchased it in 2001.

"At the time, it was the best buy for square footage in town," said Ryan, who is also a realtor and a tax preparer and has turned the chapel into a multiuse building. The chapel has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ community. Ryan hosted her first same-sex wedding in the chapel before marriage for gays was legal.

"It was kind of neat because this is a pretty conservative town and it was a female police officer and her partner who were getting married," Ryan recalled. "Our chief of police actually came to the wedding."

The chapel's stained glass windows make for a lovely backdrop to any wedding, and the chapel is home to Livingston County's only 600-pipe theater organ, which was moved from the Granada Theater in Detroit.

"People will stop by and say, 'I'd like to take a picture with my family's window' because they donated that particular window," Ryan said.

For a time, Ryan put the chapel on the market but it failed to sell.

"I had it closed for two years and every single week I'd get calls for weddings so I said this is ridiculous," said Ryan. "So I just reopened it."

The chapel can seat up to 150 guests. Packages for petite weddings start at $300 and large ceremonies start at $600. The space can also be rented out for memorials, christenings, seminars and concerts. Ryan strives to be as accommodating as possible.

"In the past I used to say you could do anything but a nude wedding," she said. "But now I have an officiant who'll do that too. We've had people get married with their pets. We're pretty open. We support the creative use of our facilities to honor our clients' wishes to achieve their true dream wedding. Please do not hesitate to ask."

For more information about the Village Chapel, visit http://loveislovechapel.com or call 517-223-0517.

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