The silence was comforting and permeated my soul while seated in the Anthony Chapel sanctuary, a man-made elegance tucked away in Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains. Squeezed below the canopy of pines and dogwood, this shaded forest nook is surrounded by 4.5 miles of beautiful Lake Hamilton. A picturesque showplace of artistic design hidden in a botanical setting—a quiet zone wrapped with a tapestry of greens and browns with a splash of March dogwood white and azalea pink. Tranquility generously given if one is willing to accept the respite provided.
A gentle invitation to experience God’s creation from within this magnificent repose, the wood, glass, iron, and stone structure features floor-to-ceiling windows with impressive flagstone floors. The imposing windowpanes are extensions to the outdoors, bringing the natural world into a more formal setting. The open rafter ceiling is supported by massive pine columns and crossbeams while reaching a lofty 75 feet. To an unseeing eye, the structural maze above a bit daunting.
Since the October 2006 dedication, this perfect outdoor wedding venue near Hot Springs National Park and an extension of Garvan Woodland Gardens has captivated many a bride, including our oldest granddaughter. Ever changing natural light filters through the foliage and into the sanctuary, providing a warm muted backdrop for shared moments. Time slips away quietly in this interlude with silence, away from the pressures of outside commotions and distractions. One of four glass chapels mentioned in this blog post, this refuge for the soul a must experience.
Worth seeking out if you’re in northwest Arkansas is Thorncrown Chapel near Eureka Springs. Nestled deep within the Ozark Mountains, this 45-foot out-of-way pine and glass haven in the woods was built in 1980 by one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s trained architects, Euine Fay Jones. Jones referred to his artistically designed Thorncrown Chapel as “Ozark Gothic,” based on the original design and use of natural light of the classic Gothic Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. As an historical token, Jones’ awe-inspiring architectural expertise is apparent in the use of local pine and his intense preservation of the structure in a natural setting.
Terry Ward of Budget Travel Magazine listed Thorncrown Chapel as one of “The World’s 10 Most Beautiful Churches” in his May 8, 2011 article.
Why not visit these glass-enclosed seclusions in the Arkansas woods and still your soul.
The Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, another artistic work of Euine Fay Jones, was commissioned by family members to pay tribute to a woman who loved her Creator and cherished His creation. Surrounded by soaring pine and majestic oaks, light plays with the shadows while penetrating and filtering through the 4,460 square feet of glass. Thirty-one tons of steel joins this massive transparency to create an atmosphere of strength and character. Based on the pointed Gothic arch, Jones designed 15 main arches while incorporating three or four Gothic arches within each one. The Gothic arches unchanging quality remains relevant and certainly inspiring as one looks at the lofty vaulted ceiling.
Perched on a wooded hilltop in northwest Arkansas near Bella Vista, the Chapel overlooks the tranquil Lake Norwood. Wood, stone, and steel intermingle and compliment its natural surroundings as a perfect blending of creative artwork. Yet another unique outdoor wedding location secluded in the Arkansas woods, where shadows dance across the pews and flagstone, and the wind kisses the windowpane.
Although not located in the Arkansas woods, the striking prairie Holy Family Shrine near Gretna, Nebraska warrants mentioning. The Western Red Cedar and glass sanctuary resting on natural quarry limestone blocks is situated on a 23-acre site overlooking the Platte River Valley, surrounded by bluestem prairie grasses and native perennials.
The open, simplistic design and the transparent glass suggest how man’s creation and God’s creation can interact as one. My visit to this unique prairie repose was brief and a return visit a must, hopefully with a bright blue Nebraska sky or breathtaking sunset as backdrop.
The following Jones’ creations remain on my photography wish list:
http://theology.sewanee.edu/cota The Chapel of the Apostles is located on the campus of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee (north of Chattanooga).
http://www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu/pages/pinecote.php The Pinecoate Pavilion is located in the Crosby Arboretum on the Mississippi State University campus in Picayune, Mississippi (about 45 miles east of New Orleans, Louisiana).
Now draw aside from the demands of the moment and find your own glass chapel oasis. Seek your place of healing stillness and solitude where just maybe God can whisper I love you, and you actually feel His arms wrapped around you. Live beyond the boundaries of any glass enclosed structure and experience your special place of peace—in His presence.Anthony Chapel Garvan Gardens Hot Springs, Arkansas http://www.garvangardens.com/discover/ Thorncrown Chapel Eureka Springs, Arkansas http://www.thorncrown.com/ Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel Bella Vista, Arkansas http://www.beautifulbellavista.com/chapel.htm Holy Family Shrine Gretna, Nebraska http://www.holyfamilyshrineproject.com/index.php
Thank you for stepping aside and silencing a few minutes with me. These and other glass chapel photographs can be seen at www.corinthrose.com under travel.