You are here


-A A +A
1971–1972, J. D. King and R. L. Wilson. Center of the upper campus
  • (West Virginia Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

Before this small structure was built, college officials decided that students needed a place for private worship and meditation more than a combination auditorium and chapel that would serve neither purpose well. Consequently, they decreed two separate structures. The adjoining auditorium, completed in 1976, seats 1,300; the chapel accommodates only 150. In-the-round seating, arranged on tiers descending from terrace-level entrances, focuses on a combination communion bench and baptismal fountain.

Extremely low exterior walls, composed mostly of faceted stained glass from the Blenko Glass Company, hover under a plethora of shingled roof. Corners are emphasized by four exposed laminated arches set in a reverse configuration that gives them a strange boom-erang appearance. They connect above the chapel's midpoint, then rise to form a spire topped by a cross that reigns 80 feet above the surrounding terrace. In practically all respects, the chapel, designed by architects from St. Albans, is a simplified, miniature version of Eero Saarinen's well-known North Christian Church, built eight years earlier in Columbus, Indiana. There, extensive landscaping, designed integrally with the building, softens its architectural impact. Here, the chapel stands on an extensive paved terrace, bereft of planting, which makes it seem as if something from space conveniently touched down on a level landing pad.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.


What's Nearby


S. Allen Chambers Jr., "Chapel", [Elkins, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.