Academy Chapel History
The Grosse Pointe Academy Chapel was constructed in 1899 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart and serves as an outstanding example of French Gothic architecture, reminiscent of La Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France.
Beautiful wood carvings include the statues on the two stone side altars, one of the Blessed Virgin, the other of St. Joseph. Floral designs are carved along the high oak panels running along the nave and the sanctuary walls.
The walls of the Chapel are buff colored with a high vault of blue and gold. Above the sanctuary, a fleur de lis motif is stenciled in gold leaf against a blue background. The stalls and benches are artistically carved and the choir loft houses a beautiful German pipe organ built in Quebec.
At the front of the Chapel, in the center, stands a white marble altar with a pinnacle housing the tabernacle. Below it, a movable wood altar faces the people. On this altar are carved three symbols. Each represents some aspect of the life of Blessed St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, the Religious of the Sacred Heart, who was sent as a pioneer missionary to North America from France in 1818. The ship "Rebecca" represents her arduous journey across the Atlantic, the lamp represents the light of faith and prayer, and the log cabin represents early pioneer hardships in New Orleans and St. Louis.
The small side altar to the left of the statue of the Blessed Virgin is dedicated to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the French woman who founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in France in 1800.; Surrounded by children, she is depicted in a striking carved wood bas-relief. Twelve large stained glass windows, designed and crafted in Munich, Germany, depict scenes from the life of Christ. The windows were graciously donated by benefactors beginning in 1906.
In 1929, through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Walter O. Briggs, the Chapel was renovated and expanded so that it connects with the Tudor-Gothic styled school building. The Chapel entrance is made of Pewabic tile. There is a bride's room for members of the bridal party on the second floor next to the choir loft. The Chapel also has a sound system that provides excellent acoustics.
Today it remains a peaceful and beautiful Chapel for life at The Grosse Pointe Academy. It's the setting where alumni, friends and others from the community come to share weddings, baptisms, funerals and other ceremonies. Each year the Academy baccalaureate is held in the Chapel.
The Grosse Pointe Academy is located on a 20-acre campus overlooking Lake St. Clair. It was originally founded in 1885 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart as a boarding and day school for young ladies. In 1969, it became an independent, co-educational day school (Montessori preschool through grade 8). In 1978, the Academy was designated an historical educational complex by the Michigan Historical Commission. In 1985, six Academy buildings, including the Chapel, were designated as national historic sites and listed on the Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
One of the Academy's educational goals is to prepare students through Christian principles and sound moral teachings to become effective leaders, responsible citizens, and caring stewards. Monday morning chapel assemblies for Grades 4-8, monthly chapel assemblies for Lower School children, holiday celebrations and Christian Life classes for Grades 1-8 introduce religions around the world in addition to teaching about Christianity. The focus is on helping each student develop a reverence for all people and incorporate strong moral and ethical values in his or her life.
For more information about the Chapel or to reserve a time for your special event, please call Peggy Baer at (313) 886-1221 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.