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Bruce Chapel

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1842–1843. 1892. South side of Mason County 29, .5 mile east of intersection with WV 2, 2 miles south of Gallipolis Ferry

Beautifully located on a low ridge far back from the Ohio River and surrounded by a graveyard, this small brick church on a sturdy sandstone foundation tries to be both Greek and Gothic in style, but shows little enthusiasm in either direction. Windows and doors are topped with broad, rudimentary pointed arches, while the cornice has classical profiles. The name, inscribed in a small panel above the entrance, is unusual for an Episcopal church. Bishop William Meade explained it when he consecrated the chapel in 1844:

The building which is of brick, neatly finished, and located on a mound in the midst of a grove, I consecrated by the name of Bruce Chapel, a name selected by the minister and vestry, as an expression of gratitude for the liberal assistance received from Mrs. and the Misses Bruce, of Halifax [in Virginia], to whose generous contributions not a few of our feeble congregations are indebted for their ability to complete their respective houses of worship.

The Bruce ladies could well afford whatever help they gave, as their family was among antebellum Virginia's wealthiest. Their Halifax County house, Berry Hill, built at the same time as this chapel, was modeled on the Parthenon. It remains Virginia's chief domestic example of the Greek Revival style.

A small frame wing at the rear of the chapel probably dates from the early 1890s. Bruce Chapel is no longer in use, and the graveyard is neglected.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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