Take a virtual tour of our chapel

Use your mouse or touchpad to take a virtual tour of  this 360-degree view of The Summit's entranceway and 19th centurychapel. Click on the arrow to move forward and backward. Drag the photo in any direction.

The Summit opened the Academy Building, now the wing you see on the right, in 1890 and the central building, east wing and chapel opened in 1895. The  Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel is an example of Gothic Revival – a picturesque style of architecture which became popular in the mid 19th Century. Sometimes called Victorian Gothic, this architectural movement in Europe and North America rekindled interest in the earlier Gothic period. It was often chosen for rural country settings and churches.

The Summit main building and chapel was designed by Edward F. Durang, a Philadelphia architect who specialized in ecclesiastical design. Durang was known for lavish work as seen in the interior furnishings for the Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul as well as the cathedralesque Gesu Church in Philadelphia.

Durang incorporated many examples of Gothic Revival features in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. A few to note that are representative of the style:

Pointed Arches: Apparent in many windows and doorways, the pointed arch is one of the most distinctive elements associated with Gothic architecture. Pointed arches allowed buildings walls to become thinner so buildings could become taller.  Pointed arches distribute weight more vertically.

Flying Buttresses: Also taking the weight off the walls to support lofty ceilings, flying buttresses are visually grand – bestowing a sense of graceful movement.

Vaulted Ceilings: The pointed ribbed vaults seen in the ceiling of the chapel are not just aesthetic. They reduce outward thrust, channeling the weight of the ceiling away from the walls to other supports, such flying buttresses and vertical columns. Soaring above large naves, they are often romantically described as reaching toward heaven.

Large Windows: In the Medieval days before the Goths re-envisioned architecture, windows were tiny because the bulky stone castles had thick walls which supported the roofs. Large windows would cause them to collapse under the weight of the stone. Gothic structural elements, such as arches, flying buttresses and vaulted ceilings took the weight off the walls, allowing them to be thinner and taller. So windows became bigger and taller, making interiors brighter. In churches, these large expanses of windows also provided a new way to tell the narrative of the Christian church – storytelling through stained glass artworks.

Wood Relief: As Gothic architecture allowed churches and cathedrals to become more grand, sculptures of saints and the Holy Family became a common element. Summit’s main building and the chapel has several fine examples of sculptures in the entrance, transepts and side altars. Another form of this decorative sculptural art was wood relief. Unique to The Summit are wooden reliefs in the ends of each pew – hand-carved by the artistic sisters who lived here.