The Chapel and several of its surrounding buildings were originally constructed for Mount Vernon Seminary, a prestigious school that educated the daughters of the East Coast elite. Among these daughters was that of business tycoon Marjorie Merriweather Post, founder of General Foods and namesake of Merriweather Post Pavilion. The Chapel was dedicated to the seminary's founder, Mrs. Elizabeth J. Somers, by seminary students and alumnae.
Mount Vernon Seminary continued as a center of learning until 1942 when its land and facilities were needed for support of the war effort and were purchased by the Navy. Changing its name to Mount Vernon College, it moved to another part of Washington and now continues as a campus of the George Washington University.
The exterior design of the Chapel is model Greek Revival and the interior is light and airy with simple, symmetrical architecture finished in the Early American Meeting House style. A grand Palladian window in the sanctuary and classical staircases in the narthex are some of the features that lend the chapel its elegant personality.
Its beauty and location make it ideal for weddings and other ceremonies, such as the annual Pearl Harbor commemoration.
Legend has it that Rear Adm. Robert D. Workman, CHC, USN, the Chief of Chaplains from July 1937 to July 1945, was so fond of the chapel that he gave it its present name of "The Navy Chapel."
For more details on any of the services, call the NDW Chaplain's Office at (202) 433-2058.
Chapels at other naval installations will be highlighted in future issues of Sea Services Weekly.