This week for Georgetown Time Machine, GM is returning again to the Willard R. Ross postcard collection. Specifically he’s checking out a photo from New Year’s Eve, 1928, of the Renwick Chapel in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Not a whole lot has changed of this scene ninety plus years later:
Of course one very significant thing has changed: the ivy. It covered the chapel in 1928 and is gone now. It’s unclear when the ivy was first grown over the building. It was described as “ivy-covered” in 1888 during the funeral of William W. Corcoran (who created Oak Hill Cemetery and commissioned the chapel):
The chapel was built in 1850 and designed by James Renwick in his famous gothic revival style. Growing ivy over it was probably in keeping with the ancient look Renwick was aiming for.
GM’s not sure when the ivy was finally cut back. But this photo of the chapel entrance from 1940 makes it look like it was at least cut back at that point:
Despite being really bad for brick and stonework, the chapel seems to have shaken off the ivy with little permanent damage.
Although not as large as Renwick’s more famous works like the Smithsonian Castle or St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, it is nonetheless spectacular. If you get a chance to see the inside, definitely take it:
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