Washington Memorial Chapel

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Exterior view of the Chapel.
Detail of a statue of George Washington on the exterior of the Chapel.

Located in Valley Forge National Historical Park in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the Washington Memorial Chapel is both an active Episcopal Parish and a tribute to General George Washington. Designed by Milton B. Medary,[1] the Chapel resulted from a sermon preached by founder, the Rev. Dr. W. Herbert Burk of Norristown, an Episcopal priest.[2]

History[edit]

The money for the chapel was raised in small increments (nickels and dimes), raising the building a "few feet at a time."[3] In the religious and patriotic zeal of the day, Dr. Burk was active in trying to preserve Valley Forge, and in the establishment of the Valley Forge Museum of American History (the predecessor to the Valley Forge Historical Society).[3]

On June 19, 1903, the 125th anniversary of the evacuation of the continental army from Valley Forge,[3] the cornerstone was laid on property donated by the I. Heston Todd family. A small framed building preceded the present structure. The original structure was named the "Theodore Roosevelt Chapel", in honor of President Roosevelt after his visit to the site and address in 1904.[4]

The Chapel was completed in 1917 and is currently the home of an active parish in addition to serving as a National Memorial to Washington.[3] The chapel serves as a wayside chapel to those who visit Valley Forge National Historical Park, and welcomes visitors from all over the world.[4]

Noted ironsmith Samuel Yellin produced the wrought iron gates, hardware & locks. He was one of many artisans to produce sculptures, stonework, stained glass and metal work.[5] The interior woodwork was supplied by Belgian-American cabinetmaker Edward Maene (1852–1931).[6]

From the visitor's perspective the Chapel, with its central location, can appear to be a part of the park. However, the Chapel and surrounding property belong to the Episcopal Church. Across Port Kennedy Road from the Chapel sits the builder's model of the Washington Monument. This obelisk marks the grave of Lieutennant John Waterman. The original Waterman gravestone was originally on display in the visitor's center museum. The Bell Tower houses the DAR Patriot Rolls, listing those that served in the Revolutionary War, and the Chapel grounds host the World of Scouting Museum.[7]

National Patriots Bell Tower and Carillon[edit]

The chapel is also known for carillon, placed in the National Patriots Bell Tower.[8] The tower was built entirely by funds raised over a period of more than a decade by members of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).[9]

It is a traditional carillon with a traditional keyboard composed of 58 bells. The first 14 bells were installed in 1926 (from the Meneely Bell Foundry), and expanded over the course of three decades. The 56 bells were reinstalled in the current tower in 1953, and expanded again to 58 bells in 1963 with bells from the Fonderie Paccard in France.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Washington Memorial Chapel & Bell Tower". Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  2. ^ Treese, Lorett (1995). "A Struggle for Growth and Professionalism at the Washington Memorial". Valley Forge: Making and Remaking a National Symbol. The Pennsylvania State University Press. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Washington Memorial Chapel". Valley Forge FAQs. ushistory.org. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  4. ^ a b "About the Chapel". Washington Memorial Chapel. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  5. ^ "Washington Memorial Chapel & Bell Tower: Chronology". Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  6. ^ Lita Solis-Cohen, "Winterthur’s Philadelphia Furniture Forum: What Was Learned?" Furniture News, March 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "About The Museum". World of Scouting Museum. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  8. ^ a b "VALLEY FORGE : USA - PA". Traditional carillons in North America: index by state/province. Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA). 2006-06-01. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  9. ^ "Work of the Society". About the DAR. National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°06′16″N 75°26′15″W / 40.10456°N 75.43759°W / 40.10456; -75.43759

Resources[edit]

  • "Making a Museum: The Confessions of a Curator" By Rev. W. Herbert Burk, D.D. [Founder and Curator of the Valley Forge Museum of American History], 1926.
  • "In the Beginning: at Valley Forge and the Washington Memorial Chapel" By Eleanor H.S. Burk, 1938.