Cadet Chapel interior

Visitors walk through the Cadet Chapel at the Air Force Academy in March.

You have two weeks to visit the Air Force Academy’s Cadet Chapel before a renovation closes it for three years or more.

The chapel will close Sept. 4 “for necessary repairs,” academy officials said Tuesday.

“After removing the Chapel’s furnishings and other preparations, the actual work on the $158 million project will begin on Nov. 1 and construction may take four years to complete,” an academy news release says.

Those who want to visit “before the preservation and restoration process begins” can do so from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 3.

The chapel is on the National Historic Registry, “and the academy is proud to oversee the preservation of the building for generations of Americans and cadets to come,” the news release says.

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The academy estimates that 500,000 tourists a year visit the iconic chapel, recognizable from a distance for its soaring 150-foot spires. It was designed to serve airmen of all faiths.

The chapel, hailed as the most popular man-made attraction in Colorado, was envisioned as a reflection on the aspirations of cadets. The triangular shape and polished aluminum are designed to remind worshipers of aircraft in flight. The aluminum cross in the main chapel is styled to resemble a bird’s wings.

In the main chapel, narrow stained-glass windows between the spires allow multihued light to stream in.

Alternative sites on campus will have religious services for cadets, those they escort and cadet area-badged personnel during the closure.

After saying in March that the renovation would be delayed indefinitely, the Department of Defense said July 31 that the Air Force had awarded a contract to complete the project by Nov. 1, 2022.

The renovation was canceled after its initial $68 million in funding was reallocated to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida to repair damage inflicted by Hurricane Michael in October.

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Now money for the project is coming from the Air Force’s operations and maintenance fund for fiscal year 2019. That $158 million is more than twice the initial budget because of increased costs for labor and materials, especially the aluminum panels for the roof, said academy spokesman Michael Kucharek.

Congress passed a supplemental appropriations bill that provided $14.2 billion for disasters, allowing the Air Force to restore funding for the Cadet Chapel and 60 other projects that had been deferred.

For more details, visit usafa. edu/academics/facilities/cadet- chapel or call 719-333-4515.

Ellie is a general assignment reporter. She's a proud Midwesterner, stationery hoarder and Earl Grey tea enthusiast. After interning at The Gazette in 2015, she joined the newspaper's staff in 2016.

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