Notre Dame Chapel

Notre Dame Chapel:

Sacred Space Re-Dedicated at Reunion

Hundreds of alumnae gathered in Notre Dame Chapel during Reunion weekend to honor Sr. Margaret Claydon and the Sisters of Notre Dame, and to celebrate the re-dedication and re-opening of the Chapel after several years of extensive repairs.

Thanks to the great generosity of the late Mary Field Goubeau ’27, who established a trust to care for the Chapel, a team of experienced architects, engineers and craftsmen collaborated to address a complex set of issues.

The Chapel has suffered water problems since at least the early 1930s and various repairs over the years have not solved the problem. The team of experts determined that the solution required a complete replacement of the drainage system, including new gutters and exterior downspouts, along with the replacement of parts of the roof.

Additional work was completed on the foundation, which included the expansion and re-enforcement of the underpinnings. Repairs were also made to the interior stonework and vaulted ceiling. The entire project cost approximately $1 million, supported in large part through the Goubeau Trust, and Notre Dame Chapel continues to be a beautiful, sacred space that the Trinity community treasures.

Guastavino Tiles

In the spring, Trinity hosted a special tour of the Chapel for members of the National Building Museum, featuring the Guastavino tiles that create the Chapel’s magnificent vaulted ceiling. Guastavino tiles are the focus of special exhibit, “Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces,” that is on view at the D.C. museum through January 2014.

Rafael Guastavino’s patented tiling system enabled the construction of self-supporting arches that were simultaneously lightweight, virtually indestructible, fireproof and integrated into the architectural design of hundreds of buildings across the country. Guastavino’s soaring tile vaults grace many of the nation’s most iconic structures including New York City’s Grand Central Terminal and Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Boston Public Library and the U.S. Supreme Court.