Memorial Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin |
Date of Construction: April 11, 1891 - August 16, 1892
The Memorial Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin
stands between Third Street and Fourth Street
just south of the main business district of
Charlotte, North Carolina. The small brick
church is surrounded by large water oaks
planted by Rowlandson Myers 1 and is the oldest remaining building of Thompson Orphanage
and Training Institution. The orphanage
was founded in 1887 and is the third oldest
orphanage in North Carolina.
In his annual report to the Diocesan Convention of 1889, the superintendent of
Thompson Orphanage and Training
the Rev. Edwin A. Osborne, stated:
"A chapel is also very much needed. At
present we hold services in the school
room, but it is difficult to impress
children with proper ideas of reverence
and devotion under such circumstances.
If we had a chapel that would cost about
one thousand dollars we could build up
a small congregation around the orphanage, and the benefit to the children would be incalculable." 2
In his autobiography, Osborne states that
William Preston Bynum gave the $2500.00
that it cost to build the chapel, Osborne
"I procured the plan and selected the
location, choosing the site on account
of its accessibility to the public and
remoteness from the other buildings." 3
The Memorial Chapel of St. Mary of the Virgin
Was built between April 11, 1891 and
August 16, 1892. The minutes of the Board
of Managers of the Thompson Orphanage and
Training Institution for August 16, 1892
state that in this, their first meeting
after the erection of the chapel, the managers
passed a resolution thanking William P. Bynum
for donating the money with which to build it.
The meeting before that was on April 11, 1891. 4
At the convention of 1892 Osborne states in
his report to the Diocesan Convention:
"Our chapel has been completed. It is
a substantial brick structure and was
Given by the Hon. William P. Bynum,
as a memorial to his wife and daughter,
The late Mrs. Eliza Bynum and Miss Mary
Shipp Bynum." 5
On May 1, 1895 at a morning meeting of the
Board of Managers, the name of the chapel was
officially selected and a formal request of
consecration given to Bishop J. B. Cheshire. 6
The following report of the consecration was
made to the diocese:
"On the feast of St. Philip and St. James,
May 1st, the Memorial Chapel of St. Mary
the Virgin was consecrated by the Rt. Rev.
Joseph Blount Cheshire, Jr., D. D. The
request for consecration was read by the
Rev Wm. R. Biltmore, D. D. The sentence
of consecration by the Rev. C. L. Hoffmann,
and the consecration sermon was preached
by the Rev. R. S. Barrett, D. D., of
Washington, DC. A large congregation
witnessed the impressive ceremonies of
consecration and the confirmation of
six girls and five boys, inmates of the
The brick structure is in excellent condition
both internally and externally. The interior
walls have recently been rubbed down and
painted. The chapel was opened for service
in 1968, but has since been boarded up.
There is evidence that the bricks for the chapel
were made from clay at the site and fired there.
Paul Haigler of Hendrick Brick Company said
that the black marks on the bricks used in the
chapel were due to the drying process used at
that time. He also pointed out that there
were an inordinate number of bricks in the
building, since the foundations were very thick and that the bricks were oversized.
1 Mrs. Harold Dwelle, sister of Rowlandson Myers.
2 Journal of Proceedings, Diocese of North Carolina, 1889.
3 E.A Osborne's autobiography. Xeroxed copy in files of Thompson Children's Home - no page numbers.
4 Minutes of Board of Managers - August 16, 1892. To be found in an unmarked ledger book in files at Thompson Home - no page number.
5 Seventy-sixth Annual Convention, Diocese of North Carolina, 1892. p. 34.
6 Minutes of Board of Managers - May 1, 1895.
7 Journal of Proceedings, Diocese of North Carolina, 1895. p. 33-4.