2757 Fairmount Boulevard (1981, 1991)


Fairmount Presbyterian Memorial Chapel

The first services of the Fairmount Presbyterian Church at its present site were held in 1916 in a small wooden chapel. Three months later it was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. it was quickly replaced by another wooden structure, but it was not until 1942 that the present sandstone church was built. The lovely chapel was added in 1956, and remodeled in 1989. The architect for the remodeling was Randall Gordon of Collins, Rime, and Gordon.


The interior of the chapel has been radically altered. Chairs, which can be moved around, have replaced pews, which cannot. Both the podium and the communion table may be moved to any part of the room, and the organ can be rolled out of its enclosed area to the left of the chancel. The chairs may be arranged in a variety of patterns for use in worship or meetings. Storage space has been enlarged, and handy chalkboards are concealed on the backs of the closet doors to be revealed only when they are to be used. A new audio system and an upgraded heating system add to the physical comfort of the parishioners.


The descending dove over the baptismal font as well as the Ionic cross on the communion table were specially created for the renovated chapel. The two most striking features of the room have remained untouched: the large stained-glass window and the sculpture of Christ. The stunning wall of stained glass, designed by artist Robert Harmon and executed by the studios of Emil Frei, draws its inspiration from the story of the burning bush in the Old Testament and the Pentecost in the New. The panels over the windows and the screen at the front reflect the colors, shapes, and symbols of the window/wall. Interior decorator and artist Jane Hanson Harris painted them on canvas and then covered them with a fine nylon gauze to give the effect of glass.


Of his sculpture of Christ on the wall behind the altar, with its message of "Follow me' " William McVey said. "By turning the figure and allowing Christ to walk away, we achieved movement and vitality, thereby strengthening the theme. It became possible to leave the face to the imagination of the beholder, making the appeal to the congregation more personal and direct."