Darke County’s “Field of Dreams”

by | Nov 20, 2021 | Arts & Entertainment, Darke County News, Features, Greenville

Don Wright (left) stands with his wife, Pepper, at the entrance of the Chapel of the Winds, located at 4223 St. Rt. 36 in Greenville. The Chapel, which opened in October 1991, is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The Chapel of the Winds celebrates 30th years

GREENVILLE – While watching Phil Alden Robinson’s iconic 1989 film Field of Dreams, one recalls the image of a baseball diamond built in the middle of a cornfield in Dyersville, Iowa. Based upon W. P. Kinsella’s 1982 novella, Shoeless Joe, the movie’s main character, Ray (played by Kevin Costner), hears a voice and a vision – If you build it, he will come. Although considered foolish by family and friends, Ray ploughs through his perfectly good corn crop to realize that vision – a hallowed place where people gather to share memories and maybe even have a divine encounter. Even a young hitchhiker pauses to ask, “Is this heaven?” – to which Ray chuckles, “No, it’s Iowa!” 

Sometimes, in rare moments, life can, indeed, imitate art. Darke County, Ohio, has its very own “Field of Dreams,” near State Route 36 in Greenville, which offers those who visit a little bit of heaven right here on earth.

Built in 1991, The Chapel of the Winds, which celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year, was the vision of longtime Greenville business owner, Don Wright. A native of Sandy Hook, Kentucky, Wright moved to Greenville in 1956, with $1500 and a desire to live the American Dream. Eventually, over time, he fulfilled that desire to become a successful entrepreneur, owning several local businesses including Don’s Pure Oil, Treaty City Coin, the Office Bar (and others), as well as owning real estate, farmland, oil fields, and breeding thoroughbred Arabian horses. 

Although several unexpected twists and turns of life ensued, Wright became friends with the late Reverend Fred Isch, pastor of Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, located at Washington and Devor. In the 1980s, when Wright began to have dreams of building a small church in the woods, he confided in Pastor Isch, who encouraged him to pursue his vision. 

“Back in the 1980s, I began to have dreams about building a small church in the woods…which lasted several years. At this same time, strange things began to happen to me.  I would be at the right place at the right time and made a lot of money. It freaked me out. So, I went to see Reverend Isch and told him everything,” recalled Wright. “He told me that he suspected for some time that I was one of God’s ‘black sheep’ sons… and said that God uses strange people to carry out His wishes. He also said that I would have no peace until I built the Chapel. So, in 1991, that’s exactly what I did, and I haven’t had a dream about it since!” 

Located on five beautiful acres, the Chapel of the Winds was built by the talented hands of Paul W. Pearson, a U.S. Army veteran from who served in Korea, owned a local flea market and junkyard (Ft. Briar on 127). When Pearson tore down the old O’Brien Feed Mill, he salvaged the front steps of the century-old grain elevator, bricks, and beams.

“Paul was a guy who could build just about anything. He only had a third-grade education, but he was an unrecognized genius,” said Wright. “When I asked Paul what he was going to do with the bricks and red oak wood, he said, ‘I dreamed I’d build a church with it.’ Then he drew a picture of the little building with the little round windows on each end. Then I said, ‘I want you to build it!”

Erected in October 1991, and open to the public March 1 through December 1, the Chapel of the Winds has seen over 300,000+ visitors from all 50 U.S. States, as well as seven countries, including Germany, Great Britain, Argentina, and the Philippines. The Chapel offers visitors a charming, rustic experience, with its quaint brick walls and colonial-style interior. Built to last from the repurposed materials, there are six “two-seater” red-oak benches along each aisle. Recent additions to the Chapel’s interior include a statue of the Virgin Mary, a Native American mother and child, and two stone reflection benches. Recent additions include a shelter area for visitors and guests to chat, and the Paul Pearson Memorial Trail, a four-acre path marked by a stone commemorating Pearson who died in 2014. 

In addition to Wright and his wife, Pepper, the Chapel is currently maintained by many community supporters, including the Reverend Ron Nischwitz, who serves as the Chapel’s caretaker and manager. Other volunteers who help maintain the grounds are Jeff Sanders, Kevin Judy, and the late George Peden. While many judges do not perform weddings at the Courthouse, people often turn to Chapel to host their wedding and renewal of vows ceremonies. The cost is quite reasonable, too, with only a $50 donation to help with the upkeep and maintenance of the grounds.

“We hope many people will visit the Chapel,” said Nischwitz. “We hope couples will give us a call. We’d love to host their ceremonies here!”

To visit the Chapel of the Winds, stop by anytime at 4223 US 36 in Greenville, or visit the Chapel of the Winds Facebook Page.  Questions? Just call Pastor Ron Nischwitz at 937-621-9320.

The Chapel of the Winds sign welcomes visitors to Darke County’s own “Field of Dreams,” located by St. Rt. 36. Since opening in October, 1991, the Chapel has hosted over 300,000 visitors from across the U.S.A. and seven countries, including Germany, Great Britain, Argentina and The Philippines.
Made of century-old repurposed timber, brick and stone, and open March 1 to December 1 each season, the Chapel of the Winds hosts many weddings and renewal of vows ceremonies.
Rev. Ron Nischwitz, pastor and caretaker of the Chapel of the Winds, invites the community to stop by and visit the five-acre Darke County treasure. Questions? Call or text 937-621-9320, or visit the Chapel’s Facebook page for updates and information.
Carol Marsh is a human interest/features writer who enjoys telling the stories of Darke County's people, places, and events, both past and present. She enjoys music, scrapbooking, reading Jane Austen, loves cooking (almost as much as scrapbooking) and is a homeschool mom of two.

Upcoming Events

Story Archives

Advertise With Us

Advertise with us, click here.