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Maryland's National Register Properties

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Morgan State University Memorial Chapel
Inventory No.: B-5250
Other Name(s): Student Center for Morgan State College, Morgan Christian Center, Morgan Interfaith Center, Susie Carr Love Chapel
Date Listed: 5/21/2018
Location: Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1941-1961
Architect/Builder: Architect: Albert Irving Cassell
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Description: The Morgan State University Memorial Chapel is an irregular-shaped one-story masonry building constructed in 1941 at the southwest corner of Morgan State University’s academic quad and main campus in northeast Baltimore City. Designed by the prominent African-American architect Albert I. Cassell, the building embodies a modern interpretation of the Collegiate Gothic style. It was intended to serve as both a worship space and as a social center for students. The building is faced with roughly cut local stone, with cast-stone decorative detailing and a slate roof; buttresses, decorative ironwork, and a complex roofline with low parapets are its defining architectural characteristics. The main block, containing the worship space and social hall, it oriented on a north/south axis; an ell extends to the west, with an entrance hall, classrooms, director’s office, conference room, kitchen and restrooms. The basement has recently been renovated to accommodate a day care center. The Chapel retains a high degree of integrity; interventions have been limited to routine maintenance, and the building’s original character-defining features remain intact. The chapel is sited on a slight rise within the undulating landscape, so that the basement is exposed on three sides. The main entrance is located on the north façade of a low colonnaded hyphen that links the main block to a smaller gable-roofed wing. A flight of six steps ascends from the circular driveway to a narrow walk that broadens across the colonnade. The colonnade comprises eight square columns, with simplified Tuscan bases and capitals; the columns flanking the main entrance are doubled, to draw emphasis to the doorway. The colonnade has a simple dentilled cornice. The main entrance comprises a pair of half-glazed wood paneled doors, each with eight rectangular lights, within a pilastered surround. Narrow vertical 4/4 windows with jack-arched lintels and cast stone sills define the remaining bays of the hyphen, two to the east of the entrance and four to the west. The main block adjoins the hyphen at the east and projects forward. Its gable roof is covered with slate, and low parapets rise at both its north and south gable ends. Prominent buttresses anchor the corners of the north gable. A water table, string course, and coping of cast stone contrast with the rough wall surface. The west elevation is defined by four bays north of the hyphen; the northernmost bay holds an entrance with a batten door featuring elaborate iron strap hinges. A cast stone datestone bearing “AD 1941” in gothic script adjoins this entrance. The remining three bays hold vertical eight-light sash. Openings are framed with cast stone. A small gable-roofed vestry or music room extends from the northwest corner; its west gable features a central casement window with a semicircular-arched head. The west end of the hyphen addresses a low rectangular wing, one bay wide and three bays deep. Its gable roof is surrounded by a low parapet. A single round-arched window defines the north gable, and three 15/15 sash are arrayed on the west. The west openings are surmounted by jack arches with cast stone sills and panels below the sills. As throughout the building, cast stone serves for coping, string course, and water table. The east elevation of the main block is six bays wide, with a three-sided bay window in the southernmost bay above a basement entrance. The remaining bays hold sash identical to those on the west side. The basement is substantially exposed on this side, and is lighted by 8/8 sash. A series of four eyebrow vents appears on the east slope of the roof. A large exterior chimney with cast stone weatherings is centered on the south gable end of the main block, flanked on either side by large 15/15 windows recessed within decorative arched surrounds. A squarish projection extends from the south side of the hyphen, with a large central window flanked by narrow sash. The south elevation of the west wing is f Significance: The Morgan State University Memorial Chapel is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as the work of nationally recognized African American architect, Albert Irvin Cassell FAIA (1985-1969). Records of the American Institute of Architects indicate that Cassell was the eighth registered African American architect in the nation. In addition to several projects on Morgan’s campus, Cassell is noted for having designed buildings for several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). He was also responsible for planning complete community projects in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. It derives additional significance for its association with the history of the development of Morgan State University. Intended to provide both worship space and social facilities, the Chapel was the first student center constructed on the northeast Baltimore campus.


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