by Lybra Olbrantz
for The Beacon
Tucked away along the cliffs of Lake Michigan, a few miles north of Sheboygan, the Straits Chapel is “a memorable and intimate experience,” exactly as Christine Loose, Vice President of Lodging & Wellness, Hospitality & Real Estate Group for Kohler Company, describes it.
With its three main towering windows facing the lake, the non-denominational chapel is another Herbert V. Kohler Jr. vision come to life. The Beacon was given an opportunity June 17 to attend the opening reception for the chapel.
Upon arrival guests were greeted with champagne and hors devours. The venue stood tall with six cascading cast bronze bells above the entrance. The bells can be programmed to play various melodies from the celebratory joy of newlyweds to mourning the life of a loved one, depending on the mood of the event.
Inside we were greeted with classical stringed arrangements. To the left we veered into a cozy room displaying flowers, a bridal gown and bridesmaid dresses. It features a full-length mirror and make-up vanities with lights. One imagines what it might be like to get ready on their big day in such a serene setting.
We entered the main room of the chapel, adorned with front facing custom hand-carved pews. “When Mr. Kohler was designing this, he wanted everything to focus on the view out to Lake Michigan. It’s such a special view, whether you’re getting married in front of it and also, if you’re talking about an end of life celebration. It’s a beautiful spot in nature,” said Betsy Froelich, Director of Marketing, Hospitality & Real Estate Group, Kohler Co.
Everyone began to be seated and waited patiently for Kohler, while the violin and cello played on. Kohler then came in through a side window panel that doubled as a door, fresh off his chariot: a Kohler golf cart.
Loose was first to the podium that night and informed us of a time capsule that would be placed on site that would include a photo of Kohler the first time he visited upon completion of the venue, “He looked at me and he said, ‘it looks exactly as we designed it.’ Truly the highest compliment our design team and construction team could ever receive.”
Then Kohler took the stage. He helped us envision the dreams he had before he made them a reality, imagining what these bluffs could become when standing there in 1995. “Since then we have cultivated world class experiences on the picturesque shores of this great Lake Michigan. Memories have already been made from major golf championships, remembered by millions of people around the world. The many unforgettable moments shared between friends and family. The straits chapel enhances our offerings for guests of near and far. It is a natural extension of our hospitality,” said Kohler.
You could tell by the peaceful energy around him, his jolly smile and his joy to meet everyone in the room that he felt an overwhelming fulfillment from his accomplishments that evening. Before the evening was over, a gospel band played “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the crowd rejoiced in unison, “glory, glory Hallelujah…” as a choir of one to fill the space with grace on this special occasion.
As the celebration drew to a close, guests were given one last glass of champagne and gift bags adorned with a sketch drawing of the chapel and golden ribbons to protect the goodies inside.
Along with weddings and end of life celebrations, in the fall, they are looking to house lectures and public events at the venue. Shuttle service from The American Club and other Destination Kohler lodging is available. For more information or booking for an event, contact Justin Gephart at 920-457-4441.