Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971, St. Mary's Chapel was constructed for the Suplician priests of St. Mary's Seminary, and is the oldest Roman Catholic Seminary in the United States. Built between 1806 and 1808 by the notable American architect, Maximilien Godefroy, the Chapel is also the first Neo-Gothic church in the country. Two prominent American Catholics were present at the June 1808 Chapel dedication--Bishop John Carroll and Mrs. Elizabeth Seton (Mother Seton). Soon the basement was used for services by black French Catholics who had fled to Baltimore from San Domingo's revolution. The Oblate Sisters of Providence, an order of black nuns founded in the late 1820s, also used the Chapel basement where they provided parochial education for black children.
During the remainder of the 19th century and until 1969, the Chapel served the faculty and students of the Seminary. Maximilien Godefroy later boasted about his accomplishments as an architect, proudly asserting that he had built the first Gothic building in the United States, but other influences are obvious as well. The great hoop shape of the interior is similar to the interior of the chapel at Versailles and the use of brick keystones, a Georgian detail, reflect the complexities of American architecture.
St. Mary's Seminary Chapel is bounded on the north by Druid Hill Ave. and on the east by North Paca St. The chapel is open to the public under the care of St. Mary's Seminary & University.
Photo by Shannon Bell, National Register of Historic Places
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