Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs is proud of its old historical homes and buildings on the narrow, winding streets downtown.  But to me, the most impressive sight is on the western outskirts of the town.  On a wooded side of a mountain is Thorncrown Chapel.

chapelThorncrown was built on the piece of property that Jim Reed bought for his retirement home.  As people visited and admired the property, he had the desire to share it with others.  The idea of a glass chapel where others could be inspired by worshiping God among the trees came to him.

chapelkGround was broken in 1979 but quickly Reed was overcome by building costs.  He knelt on the stone floor of the chapel and surrendered the project to God.  Soon a woman from Illinois provided a loan to cover the needed amount.

chapel7The chapel opened in 1980.  The beams look like metal, but are wood.  I wondered how often it has to be painted.  Massive job.

chapel2There are 425 windows that cover 6,000 square feet.  The calm of the trees penetrate the building with quiet majesty.

chapel5In 1981 it received the American Institute of Architects’ Design of the Year Award and the American Institute of Architects’ Design of the Decade Ward for the 1980’s.  Like the tall, slender Gothic churches, its design draws the eyes upward.

chapel3The staff does not want the chapel to be known as a wedding chapel but a limited number are allowed each year.

Visitors are asked to be seated and take pictures from the seats.

chapelklThe chapel provides a place for quiet meditation with the focus on God.  Note the light of the cross on each sconce.

chapel8Standing on the level ground of the Thorncrown Chapel parking area, one can look down on the Worship Center.   Stairs descend to the entrance.  It has the same outer shape of the Chapel but has more solid sides with much less glass.  It seats about three hundred and can be reserved for special worship events.

chapel9The Worship Center was not open for visitors.

Thorncrown Chapel was my favorite place in Eureka Springs.  We visited it several times and were awed each time.

“The Constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying; its declared purpose was to protect their freedom to pray.” Ronald Reagan