St. Michae’s Chapel

St-Michaels-Chapel-350x227The Gothic Revival chapel at Hannah More Academy was built in 1854 to serve as a house of worship for the school’s all female students as well as for area residents. It was really an outgrowth of the St. Thomas Parish in Garrison.

Designed by John Priest, a New York architect, it accommodated 100 worshippers in its 34 foot nave. In 1929 the building was extended to its present length. Its ceiling is of oiled pine and its original windows were of a plain “enameled” design, similar to those still on the west (street) side. The lovely stained-glass windows were installed during the 1929 renovations. The people they memorialize are mostly the family of the chapel’s founder, Rev. Dr. Arthur Rich.

Featured above the altar (now removed) is a three-lancet window with borders of wheat ears and grapes; the center light has a dove, cross, and double triangle. The signs of Alpha & Omega can be seen at the top.

St. Michael’s was a part of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Maryland until 1978 when it was deconsecrated after the school moved to St. Timothy’s in Stevenson, Maryland. A handsome font was also moved to the new location, and a bishop’s chair given to St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, Maryland. The whereabouts of an English communion service and candlesticks given in the 19th century by local resident Somerville Norris remains a mystery. The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Baltimore County Historic Landmarks list.

St. Michael’s is the oldest building on campus for the original school building burned in 1857. Most of the local congregation moved to All Saints’ Chapel (Bond Avenue) in 1883 and then to All Saints’ Church in 1891.

– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist

St. Michael’s Restored

Bell Tower October 2004

Thanks to the urging of local residents and the efforts of Baltimore County, the exterior of historic St. Michaels Chapel has at last been restored. The million-dollar project also included repair and replacements to the old Hannah More Academy buildings.

Constructed in 1852 and enlarged in 1928, the gothic Revival Chapel had suffered deterioration over the years. It served the students of Hannah More Academy for 120 years until the school transferred its charter to St. Timothy’s School. Area Episcopalians also attended services at the chapel until the building of All Saints’ chapel in 1883.

At a restoration ceremony held on September 8, 2003, County Executive Jim Smith stated that future plans include the lighting of St. Michael’s windows and restoration of the badly decayed interior. A ribbon-cutting during the ceremony also included Councilman Bryan McIntire, members of various historical agencies, and All Saints’ Reverend Dan Tuton. Francis Rich Tyrrell, granddaughter of the Rev. Arthur John Rich, first rector of the Reisterstown Parish, was honored as a special guest.

– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist

The Windows of St. Michael’s

Beginning to the right of the main entrance (along the South wall) the remarkable windows of this chapel are designated in the following order:

1) The St. Mark’s Window (memorial to Rev. Fletcher’s wife)

2) Memorial to the Reverend Joseph Fletcher (Principal of Hannah More Academy staring in 1895)

3) Memorial to Ulnora B. Scharff (housemother at Hannah More Academy)

4) Memorial to Fanny Rich

5) The Good Shepherd Window (memorial to Rev. Dr. Rich)

Left (north) side, starting at the front

6) Memorial to Mary Rich (sister to Rev. Dr. Rich

7) The Sistine Madonna Window (memorial to Ann Goldthwait Rich, niece to Rev. Dr. Rich)

8) Christ Blessing the Little Children (memorial to the grand nephews and niece of Rev. Dr. Rich)

9) Memorial to Rev. Dr. Rich’s sister-in-law and nieces

– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist