Saturday, October 19, 2019

Photo of the Day: Heinz Memorial Chapel, Pittsburgh, PA

I visited Heinz Memorial Chapel, the non-sectarian religious facility of the University of Pittsburgh, while in town this past week. Like the buildings next to it—the Cathedral of Learning and the Stephen Foster Memorial—it was designed by Philadelphia architect Charles Klauder. 

Each of the three is distinct, but Heinz possesses an interior and exterior beauty all its own. In an American city of 20th-century bustling industrial smoke and noise, it harked back to a 700-year-old Western European tradition of purity and silence: the neo-Gothic style of architecture. I think you’ll understand perfectly why I photographed the site.

The building is the result of a bequest by the Pittsburgh industrialist Henry J. Heinz to honor his mother, Anna Margaretta Heinz. Ground was broken in August 1933 with the dedication ceremonies occurring five years later. 

Open daily throughout the year except for university holidays, the chapel hosts approximately 1,000 events annually-- religious services, weddings, concerts, lectures, memorial services and guided tours.

The building inspires a sense of quiet awe of the creative humans who brought it to fruition in the darkest days of the Great Depression and of the supreme being who inspired their efforts and continues to infuse those who behold this space.

Did I say “quiet”? Well, maybe only some of the time in the chapel. Aside from services, you might hear the sounds coming through the pipe organ—the third instrument of this kind in the history of the chapel.

But cast your eyes around at the Indiana limestone walls, stone vaults, high ceilings, and arches—not to mention stained glass pieces, each with their own story—and you can easily imagine yourself far, far away.

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