Dahlgren Quadrangle
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Dahlgren Quadrangle

Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart
A frontal view of the red, brick edifice of the chapel. In front is a brick quadrangle with some snow on the ground, all centered between two trees in the foreground.
Front of the chapel in Dahlgren Quadrangle
38°54?26.2?N 77°4?24.8?W / 38.907278°N 77.073556°W / 38.907278; -77.073556Coordinates: 38°54?26.2?N 77°4?24.8?W / 38.907278°N 77.073556°W / 38.907278; -77.073556
LocationDahlgren Quadrangle,
Georgetown University,
Washington, D.C.
DenominationRoman Catholic
Religious instituteSociety of Jesus
DedicationSacred Heart
Functional statusActive
StyleGothic Revival
ParishHoly Trinity
ArchdioceseArchdiocese of Washington
Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart
Part ofGeorgetown Historic District (ID67000025)
Significant dates
Designated NHLDCPMay 28, 1967
Designated DCIHSNovember 8, 1964

Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, often shortened to Dahlgren Chapel, is a Roman Catholic chapel located in Dahlgren Quadrangle on the main campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Built in 1893, it is located in the historic center of the campus.

The chapel falls within the territorial jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Washington and is administered by the Society of Jesus. It is a part of the Parish of the Holy Trinity.[1]

Located in the Georgetown neighborhood, the chapel is a contributing property of the Georgetown Historic District and is listed on the District of Columbia Inventory of Historic Sites.[2]



Elizabeth Dahlgren, the original benefactor of Dahlgren Chapel, who is buried in its crypt

Construction of the red, brick, Dahlgren Chapel began in 1892. It became the first building on Georgetown's campus to be funded entirely by external philanthropy, as well as the first to be named after a non-Jesuit.[3]Elizabeth Wharton Drexel, spouse of Georgetown undergraduate, graduate, and law school alumnus John Vinton Dahlgren (whose father was Rear Admiral John Dahlgren), donated $10,000[3] for its construction as a memorial to their first son, Joseph Drexel Dahlgren, who died at the age of one year in 1891. Elizabeth "Bessie" Drexel took a personal interest in overseeing the fabrication of the stained glass windows, which were designed by Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich, Germany.[4] The windows depict sixteen unique scenes of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and several saints including Joan of Arc and Ignatius of Loyola.[5][6] At the laying of the cornerstone, an address was given by Cardinal James Gibbons.[7]

Construction of the roughly neo-Gothic building[3] was completed in 1893 and dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus occurred that same year. At the time of its completion, Dahlgren Chapel was positioned in the geographic center of campus, behind Healy Hall and adjacent to Old North, the oldest standing building on campus. Today, it resides in the historic and administrative center of campus and, along with its surrounding buildings, encloses Dahlgren Quadrangle.[8] Prior to the opening of the new house of worship, students utilized a chapel on the second floor of Isaac Hawkins Hall (known at the time as Mulledy Hall).[9]

Interior of the chapel at night

Beneath the altar of the chapel is the Dahlgren family crypt, where Elizabeth and John Dahlgren are buried, along with their son, Joseph.[10] The church bell atop the chapel was the bell of the Calvert mission in the Maryland colony.[11]

Present day

The exterior of Dahlgren Chapel was featured in the 1973 film The Exorcist.[12]

Though weddings in the chapel were suspended by the archdiocese in the 1990s, the chapel is now a popular venue for weddings of Georgetown alumni.[13]

In 2011, Georgetown undertook an $8 million renovation of the chapel, the fourth in its history. Major structural renovations and interior refurbishments were made, including a reinforcement of the foundation,[14] and the stained glass windows were removed, re-leaded, and re-installed.[15] A new pipe organ was installed during the renovation.[16][17] The building had previously been renovated in 1976 and 1990.[11] Following its most recent renovation, the chapel can seat 275 people.[18]

In 2013, the chapel was the subject of vandalism, which involved damage to furniture and a processional cross. An investigation indicated that the damage was not motivated by religious desecration.[19]

Historic cross

After years of disregard, a large iron cross was re-discovered in the basement of Healy Hall in 1989. The 2 ft by 4 ft cross, weighing 24 pounds, is horizontally inscribed with "ad perpetuam rei memoriam," which translates from Latin as "may this be eternally remembered," and vertically inscribed with "This cross is said to have been brought by the first settlers from England to St. Mary's." Consequently, it is believed to have been carried by ship from England to St. Clement's Island and St. Mary's City of the Maryland Colony by the Jesuits, thereby making it present at the first Roman Catholic Mass said in English-speaking North America. The cross is today housed in Dahlgren Chapel.[20] The same cross was used in a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at the Basilica of the National Shrine on September 23, 2015, when he visited Washington, D.C., his first Mass in the United States as Pope.[21][22] The cross was used in an exhibition of the Smithsonian Institution at the National Museum of American History for one year in 2017.[23]

Image gallery

See also


  1. ^ "Sacramental Records". Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Archived from the original on 2016-11-04. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "District of Columbia Inventory of Historic Sites" (PDF). District of Columbia Office of Planning. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-09-26. Retrieved .
  3. ^ a b c McFadden, William C. (1990). Georgetown at Two Hundred: Faculty Reflections on the University's Future. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. p. 342. ISBN 087840502X – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart & Dahlgren Quadrangle". Silman. 2014-12-12. Archived from the original on 2016-05-27. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Tanaka, Julia (2014-02-06). "Laying the foundations: The story of Georgetown's architecture". The Georgetown Voice. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Dahlgren Undergoes Resoration". Georgetown University. 2012-01-26. Archived from the original on 2013-05-08. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Visiting Georgetown University in Mid-Twentieth Century (PDF). Georgetown University. p. 7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-04-09.
  8. ^ "A Portrait Restored". Georgetown University Library. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved .
  9. ^ "The Quadrangle: A history in fifty images". Georgetown University Library. Archived from the original on 2018-07-10. Retrieved .
  10. ^ Greene, Ryan; Chatlani, Shalina (2015-02-19). "Hidden In Plain Sight: Accessing The University's Artifacts". The Georgetown Voice. Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved .
  11. ^ a b Wallace, Natasha (2003-04-01). "Photo of Dahlgren Chapel". John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery. Archived from the original on 2012-03-21. Retrieved .
  12. ^ Petenbrink, Troy (2014-10-11). "'The Exorcist' is forever a spooky part of DC". AXS TV. Archived from the original on 2016-10-26. Retrieved .
  13. ^ Cooke, Molly (2018-02-15). "Georgetown Love Stories Unfold at Dahlgren". The Hoya. Archived from the original on 2018-06-15. Retrieved .
  14. ^ Albornoz, Bebe (2012-09-07). "Chapel Revamp Ongoing". The Hoya. Archived from the original on 2017-06-20. Retrieved .
  15. ^ "Restoring Dahlgren Chapel". The Campaign for Georgetown: For Generations to Come. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved .
  16. ^ "OrganID 53863". Organ Historical Society Organ Database. Archived from the original on 2018-03-13. Retrieved .
  17. ^ Echarte, Isabel (2014-01-24). "Dahlgren Chapel receiving new organ as part of renovation". Vox Populi. The Georgetown Voice. Archived from the original on 2014-01-29. Retrieved .
  18. ^ Weil, Martin (2013-04-14). "Vandals damage Georgetown's Dahlgren Chapel, campus officials say". The Washington Post. Retrieved .
  19. ^ Weil, Martin (2013-04-14). "Vandals damage Georgetown's Dahlgren Chapel, campus officials say". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2018-10-01. Retrieved .
  20. ^ Cona, Louis (2015-03-20). "Discovering a Piece of History on Campus". The Hoya. Archived from the original on 2017-06-20. Retrieved .
  21. ^ "Pope Francis' Mass Include Georgetown's 17th-Century Iron Cross". georgetown.edu. Georgetown University. Archived from the original on 2017-07-02. Retrieved .
  22. ^ Mcdonald, Thomas L. "The Fascinating Story of a Historic Cross at Papal Mass in DC". patheos.com. Patheos. Archived from the original on 2015-09-28. Retrieved .
  23. ^ "Georgetown's Iron Cross to Become Part of Smithsonian Exhibition". Georgetown University. 2017-06-23. Archived from the original on 2017-07-31. Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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