The Chapel of the Sacred Heart was constructed in 1894 with the help of a $5,000 endowment from Mrs. Thomas Fortune Ryan. The Sisters renovated it in 1975, doing most of the preparatory work themselves. During this renovation, air conditioning was added and the ceiling was lowered to accomodate the ductwork. Eight of the original stained glass windows were hidden by the new ceiling and vinyl wall covering.
In 2004, the Chapel was restored to its original beauty, with its 33-ft. barrel-vaulted ceiling and 15 stained glass windows once again exposed. All ductwork is now hidden in the walls and floor. The walls have been restored as well, with the original handstenciled borders complete with intricate gold leaf detail.
The chapel is L-shaped. During the Sisters’ tenure here, it was divided into two separate sections for religious community and visitors. The Sisters sat in stalls facing one another, hidden behind a thin lattice. Prior to 1975, black curtains were also used to mark off the space, known as the “Sisters’ Choir,” but these were drawn back during services. The lattice and curtain are gone today and the altar is round to represent the inclusivity of Richmond Hill. The chapel still has most of its original stained glass.
Today, the Richmond Hill community still uses the chapel three times a day, as we pray for the healing of Metropolitan Richmond. (Click here to see our weekly cycle of prayer). In addition, every Monday beginning at 5:30 we offer a full worship service with communion.