Charles Johann Walensky was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and as a young man, learned the building trade. He immigrated to Waterloo, Iowa in 1888 where he applied his trade as a carpenter and helped build many churches. By far the most unique of them is the tiny chapel he built in his own backyard.
Mr. Walensky was a deeply religious man. When he was 83-years old, he began to build a miniature chapel in his own backyard as a place for people to meditate, pray and relax.
The tiny chapel is just six feet wide and eight feet long. The interior is complete in every detail with an altar and pulpit. It has four pews with each just large enough to hold one person. Scriptural text illustrated with oil paintings decorate the walls and the windows are stained glass. The Chapel is adorned with a copper cross on the steeple. Organ music was piped in and included a composition by Charles, entitled, “Chapel by the Wayside”. The Chapel was near a rock garden and fish pond, which he made several years before.
Over the years, many have celebrated a special event such as a christening, wedding or anniversary at the tiny chapel. Walensky died in 1959. His family continued to operate the building for another 38 years before donating it to the Museum of Danish America in 1995 which in turn, presented it to the Danish Windmill in 2013.
“It is a church in every respect…and everyone is welcome to use it in any way he feels might be of some benefit to him.”
—Charles Walensky, builder of Morning Star Chapel