The keepers of a distinctive roadside chapel in The Sea Ranch that entices thousands of visitors each year to pull off Highway 1 and stop for a look are soliciting donations to repair a stained glass window smashed by vandals during a Mother’s Day break-in.
Built in 1985 as a gift to the public, the nondenominational chapel is all sweeping curves and irregular shapes like some kind of elf-kingdom dwelling, sitting slightly above and to the east of the highway.
Constructed of local stone, wood and other materials by craftsmen, it was designed by San Diego architect/artist James Hubbell with artisanal stained glass windows set into the structure. Wooden double-doors enhance the sense of fantasy, suggesting both angel and butterfly wings at the entrance, with ribbons and odd shapes of color that bring to mind flowers, flames and ocean waves.
But whoever was bent on snatching a locked, wall-mounted donation box inside the chapel destroyed the leaded glass window in one door in an attempt to gain access, according to Marcia Nybakken, secretary of the nonprofit Sea Ranch Chapel Foundation.
When the vandal was still unable to unlock the door, it appears the rest of the elongated window was kicked in, Nybakken said.
The chapel, visited by about 4,000 people a year according to its guest book, is open from sunrise to sunset every day and often used for weddings. There was a wedding on May 15, the day after Mother’s Day, when one of the keepers went to unlock the doors and discovered the damage, Nybakken said.
San Diego stained glass artist Jeff Dalrymple has worked on one of the windows before and is collaborating with Hubbell to match the glass colors and quality in hopes of reinstalling the window in the left door by July 1, Nybakken said.
The cost is about $3,000, well under the organization’s $5,000 insurance deductible, so the group hopes members of the public might help fund the repair.
The foundation also hopes to replace a weathered wooden sign out front that is becoming difficult to read. The estimated cost is $1,000.
Donations may be sent to The Sea Ranch Chapel Foundation, P.O. Box 259, The Sea Ranch, CA 95497.
You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.