Tucked away in the woods of Eureka Springs, Thorncrown Chapel and its beautiful design is meant to match its residence. The towering church with its glass walls and ceilings makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a forest within a forest.
From the website,
“Thorncrown Chapel rises forty-eight feet into the Ozark sky. This magnificent wooden structure contains 425 windows and over 6,000 square feet of glass. It sits atop over 100 tons of native stone and colored flagstone, making it blend perfectly with its setting. The chapel’s simple design and majestic beauty combine to make it what critics have called ‘one of the finest religious spaces of modern times.’”
How did Thorncrown Chapel come to be? And why should you visit? I’ll attempt to answer those questions below, let’s go!
Visiting Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs
How Thorncrown Chapel began
The property Thorncrown sits on wasn’t initially meant to house a chapel. Native Arkansas resident Jim Reed purchased the land in 1971, intending to build his retirement home. But the views from his site were so pretty that tourists would often stop to take it in. This led Reed to decide to build a glass chapel to help tourists take everything in.
Reed enlisted architect E. Fay Jones, an apprentice of Frank Loyd Wright. Jones designed a space that was inspired by the Sainte-Chapelle and its many windows and different types of glass. The chapel was built using organic materials indigenous to northwestern Arkansas. To preserve the area, no element could be larger than what two men could carry through the woods.
How to get to Thorncrown Chapel
The exit for Thorncrown Chapel is somewhat sudden, so make sure you keep an eye out. Free parking is available.
Thorncrown Chapel today
The Thorncrown Chapel opened in 1980 and has since welcomed over seven million people. Jones won several awards for his work, including American Institute of Architects’ Design of the Year Award for 1981 and the 2006 Twenty-five Year Award by the American Institute of Architects. It was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
Inside Thorncrown Chapel
What to know before you go
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