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Love’s Chapel to stay open while looking for new location

by Sally J. Taylor

Despite the noisy heavy equipment surrounding it, the wrecking ball is not swinging toward Love’s Lake Tahoe Wedding Chapel; at least not yet.

The new owner of the landmark at the base of Kingsbury Grade wants everyone to know that.

And when it does come down in 1999, the demolition of the building does not mean the end of the Love’s chapel.

“Love’s chapel is not going away, it’s going to a new location,” said Ron Darby, who purchased the chapel in April from its founder, the Rev. Raymond Love. Darby knew he would be moving.

“The partners who acquired the land (for the redevelopment project) said they would work with us to move before allowing the building to be razed.”

The Prim Project being constructed on the parcels between the Douglas County Administration Building and Kingsbury Grade, will include 32,000 square feet of offices, restaurants, retail shops, a parking garage and road improvements. In addition, environmental improvements will be made to the Burke Creek stream zone through the Kingsbury area.

Darby currently is negotiating with owners of three buildings for a new Love’s Chapel location. Darby said he plans to stay on the Nevada side of the state line and wants to be in a free-standing building not part of a larger project; and hopefully on Highway 50.

“Location is vital,” he said.

Meanwhile, weddings continue indoors, away from the noise and dust of the construction.

Now, and in the new location, Darby intends to continue the Love’s Chapel tradition of performing weddings that recognize the importance of the marriage right.

“People who haven’t been inside, who haven’t seen how things are done, view it as a little drive-through chapel,” Darby said. Inside, the Loves showed “true caring for their clients. …

“They always operated with a great deal of integrity.”

Darby, who has a banking and finance background, became involved in Tahoe’s wedding industry eight years ago when he received his ordination. He has helped start or operate several chapels on the South Shore including the Wedding Chapel at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, which closed earlier this year due to a change in management philosophy.

Referring to the importance of the wedding and honeymoon industry for Lake Tahoe, Darby said that Harrah’s chapel “brought in 25,000 to 26,000 people a year into that property. …

“Weddings have proven over the years to be inflation-proof. Love is always in the air. (The wedding industry) is a hedge against inflation, from our perspective.”

The wedding industry has not proven a hedge against the perception that Love’s Chapel is as good as gone. Darby estimated that business has dropped 15 percent below projections based on a normal June.

Though other reasons may also be involved, he said, many people have called to say they heard the chapel either had been or was about to be closed.

“The county and highway department need to do what they’re going to do there,” he said.

“We wish we could keep (the chapel at that location). But we recognize that for environmental progress, it has to come down.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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