Mystery of the Stolen Silver

Memorial Chapel

Between the evening of June 19 and the morning of June 20, 1969, thieves stole into the Memorial Chapel on the University of Maryland campus. They made it past the new lock system and found their way into Room 13. Why this particular spot? Room 13 happened to be where the Chapel’s silver was housed, including the communion set donated to the Chapel by its architect, Henry Powell Hopkins.

The thieves got quite a haul from their break-in. They stole the Episcopal Foundation’s complete communion silver service. The thieves also grabbed a silver flagon that was part of the Hopkins set. Once they had taken what they wanted, the thieves disappeared into the night. No one was ever arrested for the robbery, and the silver was never recovered.

Unfortunately, this theft was not the first crime committed at the Memorial Chapel. Earlier that spring, in fact, the same piece from the Hopkins set had been taken. The flagon was stolen before classes let out in May, but was found in the grass on campus. The piece was then turned in to theDiamondback, and the newspaper staff returned it to the Chapel. Again, no one was ever charged with the theft.

Family members of Chapel architect Henry Powell Hopkins created two flagons as part of a silver communion set presented to the University of Maryland at the building’s dedication. The Hopkinses are well-known Baltimore silvermiths and still have a family business in the city today. The inscription on the remaining flagon reads, “Presented To The University of Maryland By Henry Powell Hopkins, Architect for This Chapel, October 5, 1952.” The flagons were estimated to be worth $548 each when they were given to the Memorial Chapel.

Although the silver from the June 1969 robbery was never recovered, the remaining communion service pieces are now housed in Hornbake Library as part of the University Archives’ holdings. These pieces are still used by the Chapel on special occasions. Below is the companion piece to the silver flagon stolen in the June 1969 robbery.

Chapel silver flagon

 

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