FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Susan Shillinglaw
Alexandria, VA –A milestone in the building of Virginia Theological Seminary’s new chapel began today: the groundbreaking of the Welcome and Worship Quad and the preservation of the old chapel. Nearly two years after a fire that destroyed the 129-year old Immanuel Chapel, the Seminary has finally received the appropriate city permits and approval to begin work on the chapel remains that will be turned into a memorial garden. C. A. Lindman, Inc., one of the top 20 national firms specializing in exterior concrete and masonry repairs, has been contracted to begin the project.
According to Heather Zdancewicz, the Seminary’s vice president for Administration and Finance, the work of preserving the 1881 chapel will ensure that the footprint of the chapel is retained; the existing walls are retained (at a level that need no intrusive stabilization); and the tower and east wall with its herring bone brick work and lancet windows are stabilized at a height to preserve these architectural significant features. The former sanctuary will become an outdoor worship space/garden and used as a place for the interment of ashes and for quiet meditation. Additionally, in gratitude to the first responders to the fire, a plaque honoring their work will be added to the structure.
The design of the new chapel garden was created by Hartman-Cox architects of Washington D.C. who came up with a design that honors the historical architectural features of the 1881 chapel while creating a new outdoor worship space. Also working with Hartman-Cox on the project is the Michael Vergason Landscape Architecture firm.
“With the creation of a chapel garden out of the 1881 Immanuel Chapel, we are constructing an elegant remembrance to the past and a beautiful gift to the future,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Seminary. “In this new chapel garden, we will be able to enjoy the beauty of creation and offer worship to God that will reach the skies.”
This project, the first in a four-phase process, is expected to take five and a half months to complete at a cost of $1.3 million. The second phase will be to move the entrance to the Seminary’s Welcome Center to the Seminary Road side of the building; the third phase will be to move the Seminary’s main entrance and driveway up the hill toward Ft. Williams Parkway; and the fourth phase will be the building of the new chapel.
Plans for a new chapel, designed by renowned New York architect, Robert A.M. Stern, are currently underway. Designed to complement the Seminary's current collection of historic buildings, the new chapel will be located between the former chapel and the Welcome Center. For more information about the Seminary’s chapel project and the Chapel for the Ages capital campaign, visit www.chapelfortheages.com
Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women for service in the Church worldwide, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. The Seminary has significantly shaped ministry and mission across the Anglican Communion for generations, and with its diverse faculty currently serves students from more than 45 Episcopal dioceses, over 10 different countries across the world, and over 10 different Christian denominations, for service in the Church and the world.