“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
St. Mary's City in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Chapel Architecture

The Chapel Architecture Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), August 30, 2019
1. The Chapel Architecture Marker
Inscription.  The Brick Chapel was a unique building in the 17th-century Chesapeake. The combination of a Latin Cross plan, massive brick foundation, special window bricks, soaring walls, tiled roof, and imported stone floor is exceptional for this early date. Jesuits used classical concepts to create impressive churches meant to inspire worshipers.

As scholar Tom Lucas S.J. has found, 17th-century Jesuits emphasized verticality, luminosity, and beauty in their churches. With walls 24 feet high, many windows, and the altar and art objects inside, the chapel reflected these goals perfectly.

The front façade of the chapel was almost certainly emphasized with special treatment. While builders preferred stone, masons sometimes used exterior plaster called rendering to simulate stone. The chapel was the first in Maryland, and one of the first buildings in all of English America, to be designed with classical ideas.

Although there was no single "Jesuit style," from Italy to India, Jesuit builders in the 17th century used similar ideas. The principal elements—flat columns or pilasters, double
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doors, entablature, niche, pediment, curved gable, and pyramids at the corners—were typical of fashionable European concepts of architecture that came out of the Renaissance and the Catholic Reformation.

Who built the chapel?

Regrettably, we do not know. Father Henry Warren was head of the Jesuits in Maryland during the 1660s but there is no evidence he had architectural training. Certain features, such as the absence of a construction trench surrounding the foundation, along with other features not typically found in English buildings, may indicate the Jesuits sent an expert from the Continent. Unless some long-misfiled document is found in an archive somewhere, we will never know who designed and built this significant structure.

There was no associated construction trench surrounding the foundation. Instead, builders dug the trench exactly as wide as the planned foundation.
Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureChurches & ReligionColonial Era.
Location. 38° 10.992′ N, 76° 25.716′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City
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, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5) 0.4 miles west of Rosecroft Road, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 16721 Point Lookout Road, Saint Marys City MD 20686, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. An End of Freedom but Persistence of Faith (here, next to this marker); The "Priests' House" (here, next to this marker); "…buried…in a most solemn manner" (here, next to this marker); Project Lead Coffins (here, next to this marker); Putting Together the Pieces (here, next to this marker); Sacred Ground and Holy Buildings (here, next to this marker); The Brick Chapel's History (here, next to this marker); Andrew White, Apostle to Maryland (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 2, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 91 times since then and 14 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on September 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Jun. 5, 2023