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Maine Veterans’ Cemetery Chapel
Maine is home to four veterans’ cemeteries, two of which are located in the state capital of Augusta. Of these, the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery and Chapel opened in 2001. Located on Mount Vernon Road near the University of Maine–Augusta, the cemetery is an open, grassy site along a flag-lined roadway that leads past the 35,000 burial plots, marked by plain flat stone markers, to the memorial chapel and visitor’s center. Designed by Portland architectural firm Turk, Tracey and Larry Architects (TTL Architects), the two buildings are positioned as book ends at the east and west edges of the site, elevated on a low hillside, framing the Avenue of Flags. From afar one sees two steeply pitched sheltering roof forms nestled in a wooded setting and separated by a connecting granite wall of names.
Begun in 1999, TTL Architects designed the modernist chapel to display—in form and materials—the granite-solid character of the state and its veterans. The most distinctive feature of the chapel is its steeply pitched, cedar-shingled roof supported by conspicuously visible heavy timber trusses, which are, in turn, supported by human-scale solid granite piers. Indeed, the eave lines are peeled back at the entry to expose the skeletal timber and stone construction. The intent of the whole modernist structure is to reflect the history, culture, and people of Maine.
In contrast to the sheltering roof forms, the building base is sheathed with a combination of corrugated aluminum and canted glass window walls. The light and transparency of the canted glass base provides a counterpoint to the weight and solidity of the granite piers. Within the chapel’s simple, non-denominational sanctuary, the volume of the steeply pitched roof—with its exposed rafters, collar ties, trusses, purlins, and its manifold pendant lighting—hovers solemnly over the assembled mourners.
Jointly owned by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and by the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans, and Emergency Management, the cemetery, chapel, and visitors’ center are open to the public daily.
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