Cincinnati History · History Facts · Throwback Thursday

TBT: Norman Chapel

NormanChapel_PLAIN
Image from SpringGrove.org

Have you ever been to a wedding in a cemetery? Well, that is a fairly normal occurrence at the Spring Grove Cemetery. Why? Because the Norman Chapel is a magnificent piece of architecture set in the picturesque beauty of a cemetery meant to look like a park.

 

Last Throwback Thursday I talked about the Spring Grove Cemetery where my main character’s grandfather is interned. This week I want to explore the gorgeous Norman Chapel.

 

The History & Design

The magnificent Romanesque-style chapel was designed by famous Cincinnatian architect, Samuel Hannaford, in 1879. The chapel itself was constructed in 1880 and the first service, a funeral, was held on February 7, 1881.

The Exterior

The exterior is made of rough-hewn limestone and has areas of intricately carved stonework. Beautiful archways and a covered drive are something to be admired. If you do a search of “Wedding Photos at Norman Chapel”, you will find several pictures where the arches are clearly seen. As of this moment, I have not made it back to the Spring Grove Cemetery for pictures, and I do not have permission to share the ones I have saved for research purposes.

The Interior

The interior of Norman Chapel is breath-taking.

NormanChapel2_PLAIN
Pictures and Collage created by SpringGrove.org.

 

The arches of the exterior are mirrored on the interior. Carved wooden beams support the chapel’s ceiling and marble graces the floor. The focal point is a magnificent stained glass window at the front of the sanctuary that depicts the Ascension of Christ, although at the time of my story the stained glass had not yet arrived from Europe.

 

Black Belgium marble floor paves the chapel floor and Bedford limestone is prominent in the vestibule. There are bronze doors on each side of the altar with bas-relief panels of Biblical scenes of the resurrection of Lazarus and of Jesus Christ, the Ascension, the revival of the widow’s son and Jabirus’ daughter, and the healing of the paralytic man.

 

The stained glass window shows not only the Ascension of Christ but also Jesus healing the paralytic man. The window is inscribed with Luke 51:24, “And it came to pass while He blessed them, He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.”

 

The chapel is in use today, although more for weddings than funerals now. Its beauty is lost to the dead, and often to the grieving as well. Norman Chapel is definitely one better suited for the rose colored lens of new love, eager to soak in every detail of the day.

 

So if you are looking for a unique venue you may want to consider the Norman Chapel. Just be aware, your guest list may be well over several thousand… but no worries, most of them are permanent residents.

 

 

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