Moundview Cemetery Chapel

Before and after roof, iron, gutter, and stone restoration

click here for interior before and after
click for more chapel pictures
The Mound View Cemetery Chapel was built between the years of 1884 and 1886 by the Superintendent of the Grounds, Orville Washington Hubbell.  Victorian Gothic  was the  style ‘de rigueur’  for a chapel building of that era. Its encaustic tile floor from the American Encaustic Tiling Company of Zanesville is evidence that the builder and designer was creating a first class chapel. In spite of years of neglect and abuse, the floor has survived in a generally good state of preservation and is evidence to the high quality of the encaustic tiles. Encaustic tiles have the color throughout the clay rather than applied as a surface glaze.

The primary architectural distinction of this building aside from its beautiful Gothic form as applied to a mortuary chapel, is the uniqueness of the encaustic tile floor.  Ceramic floor and wall tiles were the most fashionable building materials in America when the chapel was constructed. Few structures erected at that time which did not incorporate tiles in some manner would have been deemed first-class and tastefully executed. Tile flooring and dadoes were installed in the Mound View Cemetery Chapel, evidence that it was to conform to the highest standards of style and good taste. Overall, the chapel’s tiles constitute a superb example of 19th century ceramic art.  The floor is especially noteworthy because it is unusually elaborate for a small chapel in a cemetery. Similar floors were normally installed in large important public buildings.

The building has two rooms, a non-denominational chapel in the front and a barrel vault of brick covered with an earthen mound in the rear. A heavy steel safe door guards the entrance to the vault. Built before refrigeration, the underground and naturally cool vault was constructed to store bodies until a suitable burying date could be arranged either due to winter weather conditions or problems due to transportation. Vaults built into the sides of hills were a common feature of some cemeteries of the nineteenth century. However a chapel attached to the front of the vault was less common.

The chapel was used up until 1954 for funeral services for the sum of $10. After that it was used for the storage of cemetery equipment and its upkeep was neglected until 1992 when the Knox County Renaissance Foundation took on the project of its restoration. KCRF replaced the  roof as the first step. Over the next 17 years drainage, stonework, ironwork, woodwork, plastering, painting, climate control, lighting, security and windows have been redone with the financial aid of the City of Mount Vernon, its owner.  Work remains to be done on the interior with the preservation of the floor being the most difficult and probably most costly single item to date. Plans are underway for this project to begin in 2010.

It has been said that at one time there were stained glass windows, however there are no pictures known of the chapel to confirm this or to show the design of the missing finial over the front roof peak. If anyone knows of such a picture please bring it to the attention of the cemetery superintendent or KCRF.

The cemetery administration hopes to use the building for its original purpose upon completion of the restoration.

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