Eagle Scout enhances Griffith’s Chapel property

From left, Gary Manlove of Williamsville Historical Society, Eagle Scout Michael Foxwell and his father, Billy Foxwell, gather after Michael’s project at Griffith’s Chapel was completed.

HOUSTON — Griffith’s Chapel, built in the mid-1800s in Houston as the Williamsville Methodist Church, has a fresh look surrounding its building thanks to a local Boy Scout.

The Williamsville Historical Society purchased the property in the 1980s in hopes of saving it from further disrepair or a possible move to another location. Over time, they worked hard to restore the building and keep it in the best condition possible.

“We got a grant from the Bicentennial Improvement Fund from the state of Delaware, which helped us considerably. We also had a lot of matching funds and a lot of people have donated,” said Gary Manlove of the historical society.

“We have stellar support from the people in the community and all around Milford who have donated money to keep it going. Right now, it’s in really good condition,”

Despite the condition of the building, the yard, cemetery and fence were in sore need of updating when Milford High School freshman Michael Foxwell of Boy Scout Troop 186 started searching for an Eagle Scout project.

“I started about a year ago, May of last year. I was looking around for projects and we found (Mr. Manlove) with the chapel. It seemed like a lot of work and I like a challenge,” Michael said.

Michael’s mother, Christine Foxwell paints the bell at Griffith’s Chapel.

Eagle projects are led by Boy Scouts hoping to earn the rank of Eagle after they have earned at least 21 required merit badges. They can then start the paperwork and process behind a large service project.

Scouts must submit a proposal for approval prior to getting too deep into their project that has also been approved by the group they are serving, or Williamsville Historical Society in this case.

Volunteers take a moment to grab a photo during a work day at Griffith’s Chapel in Houston led by Eagle Scout Michael Foxwell of Boy Scout Troop 186.

“Then we started looking around to see how much money we needed. We needed about $1,400 for Southern States (products). They donated almost half of the profit of the materials, plus they delivered and unloaded it all at no cost. People also donated a lot of money,” Michael said of his project.

Donors to the project included Howard Wilkins with Wilkins Fuel, Jamie Watson with Drake & Company, Inc., Scoutmaster Mike Schimmel with Bella Terra, Inc., Jimmy Calloway of Anything’s Possible, Lofland Funeral Home, State Farm, Atlantic Concrete, Gary Rhodes from Southern States and several family members including Lillian Calloway, Ricky Porter and Debra Porter.

Once the proposal and project plan, budgeting and team building was in place, Michael was ready to start beautifying Griffith’s Chapel from the outside.

“We had a clean-up day in November. We had probably 16-17 people there. We took our 10 loads of trash and brush, trimmed up trees and took all of that stuff out. March 30 was a Saturday — that was the blitz day. We had about 30 people helping out that day,” he said.

The team, under Michael’s leadership, tore out the old fence around Griffith’s Chapel and replaced it with a new wooden fence and pea gravel around the bases of each post to keep them sturdy.

“It took two hours from one corner to the next to do it right,” he added. “We had enough helpers to put them into teams. We had five to six people raking and some cleaning up around the graveyard. I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I’m one of those people that a little project isn’t for me. It has to be a big project. I want my name to be out there. Now, Mr. Manlove will be proud of it. People can come here for weddings and stuff like that.”

Mr. Manlove nodded and said he was proud of the group that Michael organized for this event and the work they offered.

Michael works on clearing some brush around Griffith’s Chapel.

“You couldn’t get any more people on this property,” he said.

“It means a great deal. That was $1,400 and plus with all the labor. If we had it done, it probably would have cost us $2,500. We had a fence up here when we first restored this. But the posts were rotting off and it was starting to look bad. From the outhouse and all the way back there [to the cemetery], we never even had anything done to that. What he’s done for us is incredible.”

Anyone interested in visiting Griffith’s Chapel should contact Mr. Manlove at gmmanlove@gmail.com or call him at 302-270-0902.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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