The Bigger Picture: A Simple and Steadfast Beauty

October 3, 2023 By Matt Kelly, Matt Kelly,

Renovators are restoring the original luster of the University of Virginia Chapel.

Work at the Chapel, originally constructed in the mid-1880s, is bringing back its original shades and colors. The building suffered a fire in 1910, which conservators believe may have darkened the interior. Subsequent work on the structure included further darkening the wood and interior to make the colors uniform.

In the current renovation, workers stripped the ceiling woodwork to bare heart pine, then stained it. They installed LED lights on the tops of the supporting crossbeams to illuminate the Chapel ceiling, brightening it as never before.

“I would call it surprising just how beautiful the woodwork has turned out to be in this building, because no one would have known before. It was just so dark and so uniform,” said Brian Hogg, senior historic preservation planner in the Office of the Architect for the University. “There’s a richness to the wood in the ceiling that is really pretty spectacular.”

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Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications