With its striking white steel exterior set amid the lush green of rural Sheyboygan County and the striking blue hues of Lake Michigan and the sky behind it, Kohler’s new Straits Chapel cuts a dramatic figure.
The chapel is the newest venue in a family of properties that, while focused in the Village of Kohler, are also scattered around Sheboygan.
The same driveway that provides access to the new chapel – for which an official ribbon-cutting ceremony was canceled last week due to the pandemic – also provides access to two of Kohler’s four private cabin lodgings and Whistling Straits Golf Course – which hosts the Ryder Cup – is located three miles up the road.
The chapel is 32 feet wide and 90 feet long, but it is the 50-foot peak and the 23- and 12-foot windows on three sides that are the most striking, offering lovely views.
Speaking of striking, a series of six graduated bells hangs vertically above the entrance, and they ca be programmed to play a wide variety of melodies.
Inside, there’s a bride’s room (pictured below) and rest rooms to the left and a tech room to the right (and tucked away above), but it is the main area that draws you right in, thanks to the fact that the moment the chapel door opens, you’re gifted with a stunning view over Lake Michigan.
While it’s called a chapel, the venue – located in tiny Mosel, Wisconsin – is non-denominational. While there is a cross – designed by artist Jordan Wanner – at the altar, it is easily removed.
“Whistling Straits Golf Course continues to be one of our most popular wedding venues with brides and grooms booking quite far in advance. The addition of Straits Chapel offers guests another option with a view of Lake Michigan,” said Christine Loose, VP of Lodging and Wellness for Kohler Co., when the chapel was announced in April 2019.
“We anticipate the Straits Chapel to be a welcome site for those who seek an intimate space to host weddings and life celebrations in a tranquil setting with breathtaking views.”
One wedding has already been held in the building, says Kohler’s Megan Wilhelm Scherer, but, of course, in April 2019, when the completion date was announced, no one could have predicted the current state of affairs in terms of hosting events.
However says Scherer, numerous weddings have already been booked into the chapel for summer 2021.
“A lot of weddings,” she says. “We're also open to hosting concerts, seminars, recitals, all kinds of things. We've had some funeral homes reach out just for general inquiries about utilizing the space. Anything where someone would want to host 150 people.”
The interior of the space is laid out like a chapel, with a center aisle flanked by cushioned, hand-carved pews leading to an altar-like area at the front.
The seating in the space is not fixed and can be rearranged to accommodate different layouts and event requirements.
There is dark blue carpeting in the space and the lighting system offers a wide variety of illumination options, ranging from bright daylight to candlelight.
The day I visited, the sun was shining brightly and with the giant windows, there was no need of any type of artificial light to create a welcoming, celebratory atmosphere.
“It's a stunning view,” says Scherer. “Sometimes when I'm up here, I see boats go by, I see deer and little fawns running through.”
Though the site is clearly beautiful in summer and early autumn, one gets the sense that it will stunning no matter the season.
“We will be open in the winter if someone wants to have a winter wedding, which would be gorgeous,” says Scherer. “I would love to see that. We are doing a photo shoot here and I would really like to do a winter photo shoot as well for a winter wedding. Especially on that (lake) side.”
Part of the chapel’s allure for event planners is the same thing that attracts planners to any Kohler venue: the ability to take advantage of the many interconnected options.
“The golf course is about 3 miles north,” she says, “and one of our most popular wedding reception venues is Whistling Straits. So, when I've been booking this for next year, it's often in conjunction with Whistling Straits. They can do this ceremony here and then just go right on over.”
Scherer says that in a number of cases, some wedding groups are booking the nearby cabins for family members.
“There are other wedding venues in the area,” Scherer adds. “I think that ours are very unique, especially with the American Club, five star, five diamond. You get that level of service at all of our counters. Different buildings, but we are one family.”
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.