In September 2019, Gateway Design Studio, LLC, a professional planning, landscape architectural and environmental design firm located in St. Louis, joined in the recent celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Old McKendree Chapel in Jackson, MO. The celebration of the historic chapel took place on a Sunday, with a traditional worship service, along with dedications and remarks from community and church leaders. The Chapel and property have a significant historical story as the oldest standing chapel west of the Mississippi. Built in 1819, the chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Master Plan For Historic Chapel
Gateway Design Studio completed the master plan for the property renovation of the Old McKendree Chapel in 2018, working with Craig Milde, AIA at Design + Advice Architects as well as the City of Jackson, Missouri, the chapel’s property Trustees, and other church and community leaders.
GDS’ purpose for this project was to provide Site and Landscape Master Planning documents for the existing historic chapel and cemetery site located in Jackson, MO. The site currently has an existing chapel built in 1819, the Williams Cabin and natural spring, a building serving as the caretaker house, the cemetery grounds south of County Road 36, and other accessory buildings and improvements.
The Old McKendree Chapel Master Plan provided design recommendations and guidelines for the following program elements and improvements:
• Plan for future Visitors Center for meeting space, restrooms, interpretive center.
Entrance and Parking Lot Improvements
• Plan for parking area for 150 vehicles also to include a bus turnaround at the future Visitor’s Center
• Planned entrance road improvement for bus access to future expanded parking area
Other Buildings and Structures
• Provide for additional picnic areas or a small pavilion with restroom for small gatherings, family events
• Develop existing Williams Cabin as an interpretive museum displaying period items and relics of the early 1800’s era
• Feature the path of an historic railway that cuts through the site
• Provide for additional preservation methods for chapel site such as the wagon stage area
• Provide for preservation of the natural spring
• Provide for preservation of Williams Cabin
Signage and Information
• Provide improvements to the entrance sign for better visibility
• Wayfinding – plan for directional signs, parking, visitor welcome/rules for the property, map of the property
• Provide for additional interpretive signs for the natural spring, old railroad line, natural resources i.e. trees, woodland, creek-riparian habitat, preservation areas
• Create a trail system that continues to cemetery and provides a good connection to/from.
• Establish a Native Wildflower Trail
• Tie into interpretive areas on the chapel site for walking tours
• Provide a cemetery trail for walking tours, history, areas for reflection/meditation
• Provide ADA access to existing chapel and restrooms.
• Provide ADA designated parking
Site Furniture and Accessories
• Recommendations for park benches for seating at key locations i.e. trail head, contemplative areas, restroom facility, drop off/parking area
• Provide for trash receptacles, a designated smoking station, bike racks
• Provide for security bollards for restricted areas
Natural Resource Preservation and Enhancement
• Provide for preservation of creek and drainageways; create riparian habitat, erosion control
• Provide for preservation and enhancement of woodland wildlife habitat (deer, turkey,
• Preserve and protect few remaining Liberty Trees
Landscape Improvements and Buffering
• Provide for buffering and fencing along the west edge of the property as a barrier to a new subdivision.
• Provide for enhancement of existing features on the property with native plants — for Entrance and Williams Cabin
• Provide for noise buffering from nearby I-55 and adjacent residential subdivision
• Visual buffering from subdivision and Caretakers House
• Recommendations for flow control of tributary creeks with rock check dams
• Provide for mitigation of runoff from adjacent subdivision development with bio-swales, basins, and plantings
Lighting and Security
• Provide for secure perimeter fencing around the historic chapel site
• Recommend lighting at the entrance off County Road 306
• Provide for a locked gate access to certain areas of the property for additional security
• Additional lighting for chapel, Williams Cabin, entrance road access, and parking lot
Budget and Funding
• Present a long-term plan for the Board to prioritize projects
• Recommendations for local grants, donations, supporters
• Recommendations for dedication elements such as trees, plaques, donor pavers, benches, and gardens
• Recommendations for short- and long-range funding mechanisms
Commenting on the Old McKendree Chapel project, Gateway Design Studio Owner/Principal R. Patrick Worzer, ASLA notes, “This project was a great opportunity for GDS to team with local architect Craig Milde, AIA in formulating a strategic master plan for the Board of Trustees to implement significant site improvements and prioritize for future projects that will enhance and preserve this valued historic site. Preserving and promoting the Old McKendree Chapel and cemetery property will be critical to continuing to “Tell the Story” of those who settled in in this region of Missouri 200 years ago to establish this rural congregation.”