Decker's Chapel – St Marys, Pennsylvania - Atlas Obscura

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Decker's Chapel

St Marys, Pennsylvania

A tiny one-room church built after one man's prayer for healing was answered.  


Located off of a busy street, tiny Decker’s Chapel was built through divine intervention. Michael Decker, a German immigrant to a town heavily settled by German immigrants in the 19th century and originally called Marienstadt, injured his back when he fell from an apple tree in his orchard. The historical record says that Decker, a deeply religious man, promised God that, should he be healed, he would build a chapel. Decker did recover from his injuries, and he kept his promise.

Decker built the tiny church in 1856. The one-room chapel measures 12 feet by 18 feet and features a small steeple and belfry. Decker’s son, Michael Joseph Decker, entered the priesthood and eventually became Monsignor Decker. According to the Elk County Historical Society, the younger Decker practiced at his father’s chapel on his visits home. 

Descendants of the Decker family gave the chapel to the Elk County Historical Society, the chapel’s current owners. The chapel has necessarily undergone repairs and renovations, the siding alone having been re-painted over 30 times. Electricity was added in the 1950s. A 2016 renovation helped shore up the foundation, which was starting to slide, and also added handicapped accessibility, as well as a patio and seating area. The building was added to the National Register in the late 1990s. 

Although the Deckers were Catholic, and the chapel has a Catholic bearing, anyone can reserve the chapel for events and weddings by contacting the historical society. 

This little chapel, made more unique with its unlikely location in the midst of modern sprawl and traffic, remains a place of peace amidst the bustle of modern life. The efforts of the Historical Society and its inclusion on the Register will help ensure that the chapel remains standing as a symbol of immigrant faith and labor. 

Know Before You Go

The chapel is free to visit, but donations are accepted to help maintain the building. The chapel is open year-round, and you may simply enter the front door. Inside is a guest book and some history about the chapel. There is parking right outside, and there is handicapped accessibility. The chapel can be easily seen from the road, and there are signs that point it out. 

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