|Memorial Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin
Date of Construction: April 11, 1891 - August 16, 1892
The Memorial Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin stands between Third
Street and Fourth Street just south of the main business district of
Charlotte, North Carolina. The small brick church is surrounded by large
water oaks planted by Rowlandson Myers 1 and is the oldest
remaining building of Thompson Orphanage and Training Institution. The
orphanage was founded in 1887 and is the third oldest orphanage in North
In his annual report to the Diocesan Convention of 1889, the
superintendent of Thompson Orphanage and Training Institution, the Rev.
Edwin A. Osborne, stated:
"A chapel is also very much needed. At present we hold services in
the school room, but it is difficult to impress children with proper
ideas of reverence and devotion under such circumstances.
If we had a chapel that would cost about one thousand dollars we
could build up a small congregation around the orphanage, and the
benefit to the children would be incalculable." 2
In his autobiography, Osborne states that William Preston Bynum gave
the $2500.00 that it cost to build the chapel, Osborne said,
"I procured the plan and selected the location, choosing the site
on account of its accessibility to the public and remoteness from the
other buildings." 3
The Memorial Chapel of St. Mary of the Virgin Was built between April
11, 1891 and August 16, 1892. The minutes of the Board of Managers of
the Thompson Orphanage and Training Institution for August 16, 1892
state that in this, their first meeting after the erection of the
chapel, the managers passed a resolution thanking William P. Bynum for
donating the money with which to build it. The meeting before that was
on April 11, 1891. 4
At the convention of 1892 Osborne states in his report to the
"Our chapel has been completed. It is a substantial brick structure
and was Given by the Hon. William P. Bynum, as a memorial to his wife
and daughter, The late Mrs. Eliza Bynum and Miss Mary Shipp Bynum."
On May 1, 1895 at a morning meeting of the Board of Managers, the
name of the chapel was officially selected and a formal request of
consecration given to Bishop J. B. Cheshire. 6
The following report of the consecration was made to the diocese:
"On the feast of St. Philip and St. James, May 1st, the Memorial
Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Joseph
Blount Cheshire, Jr., D. D. The request for consecration was read by
the Rev Wm. R. Biltmore, D. D. The sentence of consecration by the
Rev. C. L. Hoffmann, and the consecration sermon was preached by the
Rev. R. S. Barrett, D. D., of Washington, DC. A large congregation
witnessed the impressive ceremonies of consecration and the
confirmation of six girls and five boys, inmates of the Institution."
The brick structure is in excellent condition both internally and
externally. The interior walls have recently been rubbed down and
painted. The chapel was opened for service in 1968, but has since been
There is evidence that the bricks for the chapel were made from clay
at the site and fired there. Paul Haigler of Hendrick Brick Company said
that the black marks on the bricks used in the chapel were due to the
drying process used at that time. He also pointed out that there were an
inordinate number of bricks in the building, since the foundations were
very thick and that the bricks were oversized.
1 Mrs. Harold Dwelle, sister of Rowlandson Myers.
2 Journal of Proceedings, Diocese of North
3 E.A Osborne's autobiography. Xeroxed copy in files of
Thompson Children's Home - no page numbers.
4 Minutes of Board of Managers - August 16, 1892. To be
found in an unmarked ledger book in files at Thompson Home - no page
5 Seventy-sixth Annual Convention, Diocese of North
Carolina, 1892. p. 34.
6 Minutes of Board of Managers - May 1, 1895.
7 Journal of Proceedings, Diocese of North
Carolina, 1895. p. 33-4.