Annapolis, MD: Naval Academy Chapel in Spring
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The United States Naval Academy was founded in Annapolis in 1845, during the administration of President James K. Polk. It began as a few relatively small buildings on the waterfront of the Severn River in Annapolis and 50 midshipmen. As late as the 1870's the Academy was still a very small school.
By the 1890's, however, the United States had become a sea power, and the need for training naval officers became a priority. Beginning in 1899 and continuing through the first decade of the 1900's, both the campus (known as "The Yard") and the midshipman brigade were significantly expanded, and the campus was essentially rebuilt.
The Navy chose a single architect for the initial expansion, Ernest Flagg, a top practitioner of the Beaux-Arts style from New York. Flagg's designs for more than a half-dozen significant buildings here anchored the Naval Academy campus with the consistent look and balance it offers to this day.
The Naval Academy Chapel, seen here, is one of Flagg's most well-known designs. Admiral George Dewey himself laid the cornerstone in 1904, and the Chapel was completed and dedicated in 1908. Flagg's original design was, seen from above, a symmetric, equal-armed Greek cross. In 1940, to provide for the needs of an enlarged midshipman brigade, the Chapel was extended, creating a typical basilica plan in the form of a Roman cross. The current seating capacity, as a result of the 1940 expansion, is 2500.
In 2009, the Chapel underwent a $2.5 million restoration. To the delight of every photographer who now ventures inside, the old battleship-gray paint was removed, revealing the original white marble and plaster. Also, the dome's skylight, which had been plastered over for decades because of its poor condition, was repaired, letting in more light.
Want to photograph inside the Chapel? It's usually open to the public from 10am - 4pm, but be aware that on Saturdays and Sundays from April through October, there may be weddings taking place, sometimes throughout the day, during which you will not be able to go inside. Also, there may be the occasional funeral of a high naval officer that will be closed to the public.