This month marks the 60th anniversary of the completion and dedication of the Memorial Chapel. The iconic chapel sits proudly at the corner of Chapel Lane and Regents Drive on south campus, where it hosts over 1,200 events and over 80,000 visitors a year. The chapel’s steeple is still the tallest point on campus.
Starting in 1942, students began petitioning for an interdenominational chapel on campus. In 1946, the Board of Regents finally approved it. The vision and purpose of the chapel was to honor those members of the University of Maryland community who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country while serving in the armed forces. The Memorial Chapel was completed and formally dedicated on October 12th, 1952. [Look through the dedication program here.]
One of the most interesting details about the Memorial Chapel is a beautifully bound roll of honor titled the Memorial Book. The Memorial Book features 209 names of university students and alumni from 1919-1950 who had lost their lives in war. The book was on display in the chapel for 50 years before being transported to the University Archives for safe keeping.
Another of the Memorial Chapel’s treasures includes a silver communion set crafted by Henry Powel Hopkins. Hopkins was the architect for the chapel, and gave the silver set as a gift to be used in the services. Unfortunately, in 1969 a group of thieves evaded the chapel’s security system and managed to steal a large amount of the chapel’s silver, including a piece from the Hopkins set. You can read more about the break in here.
Currently the chapel is non-denominational and has 14 chaplains appointed by different denominations and religions. While the chapel houses many different types of religious services, it is the site for Veteran’s Day ceremony and it’s particularly popular among alumni who come back to campus to get married. In 2007 a plan for a large reflection garden that included a labyrinth and a walk of remembrance was funded and built on the south side of the building. The gardens just added even more splendor to one of the most beautiful and monumental buildings on campus.
Visit the Memorial Chapel website here.