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Chatham Hall (Chatham Episcopal Institute)

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Chatham Episcopal Institute
1894 established. 800 Chatham Hall Cir.

Chatham Hall is a preparatory school for young women founded under the leadership of the Reverend Clevius Orlando Pruden. Among this exclusive boarding school's many students was artist Georgia O'Keeffe (Class of 1905). The school's spacious and leafy campus is dominated by Pruden and Dabney halls designed by Frye and Chesterman. The halls are linked by hyphens and sunporches in a linear pattern. Pruden Hall (1906) is an impressive fifteen-bay brick structure entered through a full-height six-columned, pedimented central portico with a bold modillion-and-dentil cornice that continues across the building's facade. Behind the portico, a large dome illuminates a dramatic entrance stair hall. Dabney Hall (1911; 1917 addition), a less elaborate structure, is a three-story, fifteen-bay brick building also classical in style. The central entrance is through a two-story four-columned balustraded portico. A dining hall to the left of the buildings and a chapel to the right are set perpendicular and forward from Pruden and Dabney. Secondary buildings and athletic fields are located at the rear. To the right of Dabney is an enormous oak tree reputed to be three hundred and fifty years old.

St. Mary's Chapel (1939–1940, Fauber and Poston) is a brick, gable-end Colonial Revival church that also drew inspiration from Italian Renaissance in its tall and narrow shape and severe facade with a rose window. Above the entrance is a marble lunette of the Virgin and Child by sculptor John Angel. Inside, slender Corinthian columns support the vaulted ceiling and define the rhythm of the bays. All but one of the nave's stained glass windows from the Pittsburg Stained Glass Studio feature female saints but the elevated choir and sanctuary windows are devoted to male saints and Jesus. The carillon tower was added in 1949. The Rectory (1935, probably Fauber and Poston) is modeled after Williamsburg's St. George Tucker House. Built for the headmaster and his family, this two-story frame Colonial Revival house has a hyphen connecting it to a one-story wing. Its exterior-end brick chimneys have exceptionally high stacks rising above steep attics, giving the house a strong vertical emphasis.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee


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Anne Carter Lee, "Chatham Hall (Chatham Episcopal Institute)", [Chatham, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Virginia vol 2

Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, Anne Carter Lee and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 362-362.

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