Richmond, Virginia served as the capital of the Confederate States of America for almost the entire duration of the American Civil War. As such, many of the monuments and historic buildings are steeped in the Confederate period, though recently a few have been updated with the context of both the Union and Confederate stories and that of African-American slaves and their emancipation.
On my visit to Tredegar Iron Works where many munitions and uniforms for the Confederate Army were manufactured, I wandered around the area and stumbled upon the Confederate Memorial Chapel. It was dedicated in 1887 and was a non-denominational place of worship for the Robert E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers’ Home where the poor and infirmed southern veterans resided.
The Camp stood on the same site until 1941 serving over 3,000 veterans. Besides religious services, 1,700 of which were for funerals, the chapel was an auditorium for lectures, concerts, and meetings. Funds for the building of the chapel came from private donations and benefit auctions of donated tobacco. The belfry still has the original 1848 bell from a Philadelphia foundry.
Inside, the pews are hand-hewn facing a three-arched opening, and various stained glass windows (seen at bottom of this post) memorializing various soldiers, Confederate units with Confederate flags. The chapel gained recognition as both a Virginia and National Historic Landmark. The Sons of the Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy have raised funds to keep the chapel maintained and restored.
After initially entering the chapel, I met a vigilant attendant who was from Boston and he was keeping a keen eye out for those who maybe want to harm the chapel, since Richmond has been the scene of many protests, some of which have turned violent. The attendant told me that the United Daughters of the Confederacy building a block away had been sprayed with graffiti and that a mob attempted to burn it down. I told him that I just came from that building, tried to take a few photos of the cannons on display on the grounds and was pounced upon by alert security guards who escorted me off the private premises and followed me quite some distance that did make me feel somewhat uncomfortable. Maybe that was the message. A few of the photos from the UDC grounds with a Pillar inscribed with the words “Lest We Forget”.
The Confederate Memorial Chapel is located at 2900 Grove Avenue, Richmond, Virginia. There is no fee for entry. Free parking can be found on the side streets and there are many good deli’s and eateries in close proximity.
Finally, a few photos of the stained glass you can see in the Chapel.