Little Chapel in the Woods


By: Mary Carolyn Hollers George

Type: General Entry

Published: March 1, 1995

Updated: June 19, 2020


The Little Chapel in the Woods is a small nonsectarian chapel on the campus of Texas Woman's University in Denton. The building, ninety feet long and forty-two feet wide, constructed of grey field stone and brick from nearby Bridgeport, has been listed as one of the state's architectural masterpieces. Louis H. Hubbard, president of what was then the Texas State College for Women, obtained an initial donation of $15,000 from the W. R. Nicholson family of Longview, Texas. Additional funds were raised by students, faculty, and alumnae of the college. A competition for the design in 1938 resulted in the selection of O'Neil Ford and Arch Swank, a newly formed partnership; Gerald Rogers was commissioned as design architect for the project, to be assisted by college architect Preston M. Geren, Sr., of Fort Worth. The design included a progression of brick parabolic arches leading toward the altar, which Ford used to express infinity. The chapel was placed a little removed from classrooms and dormitories in a wildflower garden and grove of trees on a slight rise. The structure was built by the National Youth Administration, by the Civilian Conservation Corps, which split local stone into horizontal sheets and slabs and brought it to the site, and by students of the university. Two graduate students designed and made the stained-glass windows and metal light fixtures for the chapel as thesis projects directed by art professor Antoinette LaSelle. By the time of the completion of the chapel in 1941, 500 students had contributed to its construction, art work, and clean-up chores. The chapel was dedicated on November 1, 1939. Eleanor Roosevelt gave the principal address. The Little Chapel in the Woods earned national recognition for Ford and Swank.

Mary Carolyn Hollers George, O'Neil Ford, Architect (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1992). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Texas Woman's University).

Categories:
  • Architecture
  • Churches and Synagogues
  • Missions
  • Religion
  • Nondenominational and Interdenominational

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mary Carolyn Hollers George, “Little Chapel in the Woods,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/little-chapel-in-the-woods.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995
June 19, 2020