Steeped in a rich history, beautiful St. Mary’s Chapel is a gem in the middle of Uptown Charlotte. The chapel was completed in 1892 as part of the Thompson Orphanage and Training Institution and is the only remaining structure of the original orphanage. William Preston Bynum, a local politician and judge, funded the project for $2500.
According to Reverend Edwin A. Osborne in an annual report to the Diocesan Convention of 1889, the purpose of the chapel was “to build up a small congregation around the orphanage, and the benefit to the children would be incalculable.”
Tucked away between 3rd and 4th streets in Thompson Park, and accessible off the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, St. Mary’s Chapel is surrounded by old oak trees and beautiful gardens. The solid all brick structure was designed in the Gothic Revival Style, one favored by the Episcopalian Church at the time for it’s connection to ancient church history. Even when the church was newly built it was made to look thousands of years old.
The Chapel has other features unique to the Gothic Revival Style. A hand hewn timber portico meets you as you enter the front door. A simple cross adorns both the roof and the portico entrance. While crosses are now commonplace in any church, in the 19th Century you rarely found crosses in Protestant churches. The floorplan is also called a cruciform designed in the shape of a cross.
In a video done by Charlotte Mecklenburg Historical Landmark Commission, Preservation Planner Stewart Gray points out that the most impressive thing about the building is that the entire Chapel is made of common materials. The designer of the chapel was able to use brick, timber and slate, common materials found in the area, and use them to create a Gothic Revival Style building.
St. Mary’s Chapel is available for use for weddings, memorial services and ceremonies. The Chapel is also open every Thursday from 4:30pm – 7:30pm and every Friday from 12pm – 4pm for public visits.
As you step through the timber portico into the elegant chapel with it’s gorgeous stained glass windows, you will feel as if you are stepping back into history. A Historic Landmark since 1975, St. Mary’s Chapel has been both a gift to the orphans who lived at the Thompson Orphanage many years ago, as well as the residents of Mecklenburg County who can enjoy its Gothic Revival Style in the heart of Uptown.
The St. Mary’s Chapel is located at 1129a E. 3rd Street in Charlotte. The chapel can hold up to 100 guests. For more information or to book an event, call (704) 333-1235 or visit their website the website at http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/parkandrec/facilities/pages/stmarys.aspx