In 1854, Glenwood Cemetery was located on a 51-acre tract well outside Washington in compliance with an 1852 ordinance forbidding cemeteries within the city limits; the city did not yet fill the entire District of Columbia. It was laid out by civil engineer George F. de la Roche (1791–1861), who had designed Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown in 1851 (see GT27, p. 414), as a rural cemetery landscaped in the picturesque tradition of
In 1892, Washington architect Glenn Brown's chapel was sited in a small circle at the confluence of six of the cemetery's carriageways along its central north-south axis. Rectangular in plan, the single-story brick chapel in Flemish bond has battered walls and two sets of substantial dormer windows along its flanks that rise nearly to the peak of its steeply pitched roof. The simple east-facing facade is dominated by a wide, low-arched entrance traversing a third of its width and an equally monumental circular window set above it in the slate gable of the roof. The present stained-glass window, a replacement after 1918 of the original, which had been set in a spoked wheel pattern, is the chapel's only alteration. Brown, who had worked for H. H. Richardson's contractors, Norcross Brothers, on the Cheney Building in Hartford upon graduation from MIT, based Glenwood Chapel on Richardson's Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, completed five years earlier. Elemental, earthbound geometric forms and simple arched openings outlined by double and triple rows of brick voussoirs link Brown's chapel to Richardson's slightly more elaborate church; both achieve architectural quality by very simple means.