Mulberry Chapel Built on 450-Acre Farm in Georgia
By Amanda Buttram, Wood-Mizer Contributing Author
For the past 20 years, George Coker has been dreaming and planning the perfect addition to his 450-acre farm in Carnesville, Georgia. Building a chapel on the land had been a project he wanted to start for a long time, as it would provide the perfect venue to expand opportunities on the property. George’s chapel would offer a space to host weddings, events, and activities, allowing more people to enjoy the beauty of Crockett Creek Crossing Farm.
A life-long builder, carpenter, and hobbyist woodworker, George put his knowledge and skills to work crafting the farm’s newest feature. Much of the wood that makes up the chapel came from trees on the property where this new structure sits today. “Beams, rafters, and lathing were all sourced from loblolly pine cut on our farm,” George explained. “Benches were made of kiln-dried red maple from the farm as well.” This access to available timber was also a big factor in George’s initial decision to purchase a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill years ago.
Farm tractors hauled harvested timber to the sawmill that was set up across the farm and building site. George used his Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic portable sawmill to cut all the wood needed for the chapel. “I’ve owned this sawmill for 20 years. The LT40 Hydraulic has convenient log handling without much manual handling. At 80 years old, I am able to maneuver the logs with a single assistant,” shared George.
Once milled, each piece of wood was brought to the barn where it was air-dried with stickers, sanded, and stained. Corbel cuts were made using a portable bandsaw and the chapel’s octagonal posts were constructed out of reclaimed power poles. Tractors transported the finished material back across the farm to the building site George had chosen for the chapel.
After decades of dreaming and six months of work, the Mulberry Chapel was complete. The finished project was a stunning 40’ x 48’ open pavilion chapel with a 10’ x 12’ entry that is reminiscent of a country church house. The entry is capped by a custom bell tower and steeple welded from stainless steel sheet metal. Inside the bell tower sits a 14” antique locomotive brass bell, and atop the steeple is a custom cross adorned with dogwood flowers made by a family friend. The chapel sits in a picture-perfect location at the property’s highest point, nestled in the hardwood forest with sweeping views of the farm.
The Mulberry Chapel had been in George’s vision for Crockett Creek Crossing Farm for years, and it was finally brought to life with the help of a very special crew on board from start to finish. “The entire family provided labor,” shared George. His daughter, Carolee, drew the chapel’s blueprints, translating George’s dreams into a workable design. His son was instrumental to the assembly of the structure, and several other members of the Coker family were on-hand throughout the project, assisting with sanding and staining lumber as well as assembling all the timber on site.
With this masterpiece now complete, George has been able to bring his family together under the beams of Mulberry Chapel. The weekend before Crockett Creek Crossing Farm was set to host its first wedding in the new chapel, George’s family hosted a dedication for his granddaughter. “Beautiful spring weather contributed to the feelings of pride and love. All 175 guests were amazed by the construction and beauty of our chapel,” George recounted. For the future, George plans to continue sharing his passion of sawing, woodworking, and building with his family. “I look forward to demonstrating and training younger family members how to run the mill,” he said.