Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Valparaiso Chapel

The exterior

From the flat lands of the exurban town of Valparaiso, Indiana, the Chapel of the Resurrection rises like a Gothic cathedral, soaring above its everyday surroundings. And a cathedral it is, in spirit if not fact.

The interior

Begun in 1956, the chapel is the masterwork of prolific Modernist Charles E. Stade (1923-1993). Stade's practice was based in Park Ridge, Illinois, and produced hundreds of churches throughout Chicagoland and across the country. Locally, his numerous A-frame churches are easy to identify by their window walls of random colored cathedral glass; Immanuel Lutheran in Des Plaines is typical: modest but attractive, modern without extravegance.

But in Valparaiso University, Stade found a client with the funding to match his full lofty potential.

Stained glass wall

The chapel's nave is the centerpiece, a towering cylinder of glass and light, rising nearly 100 feet to the top of its jagged roofline. Stained glass figures and patterns descend from the top and disappear below the floor. Their Cubist and Deco influences are echoed in the decoration of the altar table, as well as a mural near the chapel's west entrance. Known as the Munderloh Windows, the glass was designed by Peter Dohmen Studios of Minnesota, who presumably designed the matching altar decoration and an exterior mural as well.

Altar and glass

Chapl of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University

Chapl of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University

Chapl of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University

Beautiful, elegant, simple details suffuse the interior. The pulpit floats next to a curved wall of stone. Free-floating stone slabs form the steps leading up to it. Towering polished brass chandoliers decend from the ceiling. And the organ screen is a delicate screen of tracery in wood.

Midcentury confection

Chapl of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University

Chapl of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University

The nave and chancel are the main attractions, of course, but there's more as well. Below the chancel, a far smaller chapel coontains similar details on a more intimate scale.

Ground floor chapel

At the building's west end, a circular stairwell doubles as a symbolic baptistry, with delicate sculpture pouring down toward a fountain at the bottom.


Valparaiso is a surprisingly short drive from Chicago, an hour or less. I did not get the chance to explore the rest of the town, but this building alone made the detour well worth the while.

The interior

  • Official web site
  • 2006 newspaper article about the chapel

    Eric Allix Rogers said...

    Beautiful building! You got the state wrong, though :-)

    Robert Powers said...

    Gah! That was my fingers talking, not my brain. Fixed!

    snickers workwear said...

    what a stunning building! The photography to go with the post is great, well done

    Anonymous said...


    Anonymous said...

    I had to write a paper on this building and knew that my grandfather had laid the brick. At the time he was a master limestone layer. I found his photo in the photo gallery in the lower level. I cannot tell you how proud I am that he was a part of such an awe inspiring building.