ST. MARY’S CITY - Henry Miller's assignment might have been hopeless.
As research director for Historic St. Mary's City, he was expected to guide the reconstruction of the first Roman Catholic house of worship in English America, for which no drawings or even written descriptions have ever been found.
All that was left of the 1667 Brick Chapel in Maryland's first Colonial capital were its huge, 3-foot-thick brick foundation and thousands of fragments of glass, lead, brick and plaster sifted from the soil during 20 years of painstaking archaeology.Twenty-five feet tall, with an elaborate, classically inspired brick facade plastered to imitate stone, it is modeled after 17th-century Jesuit chapels from Rome to Macao.
Even Miller, who has spent decades uncovering the lives of Maryland's first settlers, recognizes that the chapel may seem impossibly grand for a town clinging to the edge of a vast wilderness.
"It was a bit intellectually jarring, I agree ... inspired by a completely different cultural sensibility," he said as he guided visitors through the nearly completed chapel. "It's not very big, but in terms of the quality of the materials, it's so far above what people were living in in early Maryland. It is truly an amazing statement."
The entire story is here. The chapel has been restored and is a beautiful testament to the faith of the early Marylanders who built it.
Photos from the Baltimore Sun.