Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


St. Joseph's Chapel

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Institution Name: Spring Hill College
Original/Historic Place Name: St. Joseph's Chapel
Location on Campus: north side of the Quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1909-1910original construction Downey, A. H.
ca. 1980remodeled interior Unknown
ca. 2003-2004restoration Williams & Associates
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: brick
Walls: brick stuccoed
Roof: slate
ca. 1910-present (2007)chapel

Significance: architecture, culture, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterSpring Hill College Quadrangle (1973)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

St. Joseph's Chapel, Modified Gothic in style, was built in 1909-1910 to replace an earlier chapel that had been destroyed by fire. Designed by architect A.H. Downey of Mobile, it was constructed of brick covered immediately with cream-colored stucco to match Yenni Hall. It is generally thought to be one of the most beautiful churches in Mobile. During the day it is flooded with golden light streaming through the amber glass in the windows. White pillars support an arched ceiling. It provides an excellent place for quiet prayer and community worship and is beloved as a location for weddings.

In the 1980's its interior was remodeled to accommodate the new forms of liturgy dictated by Vatican II. Currently it is in serious need of repair, though it is structurally still sound. Work is scheduled to begin in early summer 2003 on the outside to eliminate serious moisture problems. Upon completion of that work, attention will be turned to the inside, with some attempt to return it to its original appearance while at the same time accommodating modern liturgies. The work will be under the supervision of the architectural firm Williams & Associates of Mobile.

It is a building rich in the memories of most Spring Hill Alumni. They recall daily and weekly masses celebrated in that beautiful space, as well as the week-long yearly religious retreats required of all. Many alumni were married there and think of it as unequaled as the setting for both elaborate formal weddings and quiet informal ceremonies. To many people it is the heart and soul of Spring Hill College.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Boyle, Charles J., ed. Twice Remembered Moments in the History of Spring Hill College. Mobile, AL: Friends of the Spring Hill College Library, 1993.

Boyle, Charles J. A Pelican's Eye View: The History of the Spring Hill College Campus. Pictorial pamphlet. Mobile, AL: Spring Hill College, 1999.

Floyd, Katherine. Spring Hill College. Historic American Buildings Survey report and photographs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/ National Park Service, 1936.

Floyd, W. Warner. Spring Hill College Quadrangle. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1973.

Kenny, Michael, Catholic Culture in Alabama (also published under the title The Torch on the Hill). New York: America Press, 1931.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections
Government Offices

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Last update: November 2006