Hartford

Historic Hartford Chapel Is for Sale for $1, But With a Catch

The catch? The Beth Israel Congregation said the buyer will have to remove the chapel — at a cost that's well above the asking price

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A three-story 1800s funeral chapel in Hartford is being sold for $1.

The Congregation Beth Israel has been trying to knock it down for years and they're hoping the price tag will attract an eager buyer.

The 136-year-old Deborah chapel at the Beth Israel cemetery was built by women in the 1800s. A caretaker lived in the top floor apartment.

The brick and brownstone structure is among the 11 most endangered historic properties in the U.S., according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

"I'd give them five dollars honestly, I think it's cool," said Derek Zemel.

Zemel drove up to the Frog Hollow neighborhood with his partner and voiced their interest in buying the building.

The catch: the Beth Israel Congregation said the buyer will have to remove it for a price tag that's well above the asking price.

NBC Connecticut
A chapel at a cemetery in Hartford is up for sale with a price tag of A chapel at a cemetery in Hartford is up for sale with a price tag of $1..

Zemel said they drove about four hours from Maine just to check it out. He said he and his partner are in the process of redoing a campground in Maine and transforming it into a wedding venue.

"We talked about doing an old Western with a church. Imagine bringing the building to Maine and making it back the way it is and making it this historical little town," Zemel said.

"People just don't care enough to make things beautiful, like that building, it's beautiful," said Zemel's partner Kerren Raia. "You build something today, it's square, it's boring."

Carey Shea is a co-founder of the Friends of Zion Hill Cemetery and key player in wanting to preserve the chapel. She said she offered to buy it and restore it to its original beauty, but the church turned her down.

"We don't really advocate for the removal, we're just really thrilled that people are having these great ideas," Shea said.

Whatever happens to the structure has to be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, who says they're glad to see people taking interest and learning more about why the building deserves to be preserved.

"We'd hate to lose it from Hartford. It's such an important building significant to Hartford, but at the end of the day, if that's the only thing that's gonna save the building, then we have to be open to all those kind of possibilities," said Executive Director of the Hartford Preservation Alliance Mary A. Falvey.

The Congregation Beth Israel has pushed for it to be demolished for over a decade. NBC Connecticut reached out for comment but hasn't yet heard back.

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