Lakewood Memorial Chapel, 3600 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Lakewood Memorial Chapel

Lakewood Memorial Chapel
Chapel with reflection pool
Address: 3600 Hennepin Avenue S
Neighborhood/s: East Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1908
Primary Style: Other
Historic Function: Religious/Place of worship
Current Function: Religious/Place of worship
Architect or source of design: Harry Wild Jones
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Granite
Material of Roof: Ceramic Tile
Notes: The chapel interior was created by designer Charles Lamb.

East Harriet Minneapolis Hennepin County

Lakewood Memorial Chapel, 3600 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.933363° N, 93.300224° WLatitude: 44°56′0.107″N
Longitude: 93°18′0.806″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Reference Number: 83003657
Reference URL: [Reference]
Certification date: October 20, 1983
Level of significance: State
Primary Style: Byzantine Revival
Secondary Style: Art Nouveau

The Lakewood Memorial Chapel located at 3600 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota is one of the finest examples of the Byzantine Revival style in the United States.



The Lakewood Memorial Chapel is one of the finest examples of the Byzantine Revival style in the United States. In 1906, Lakewood Cemetery's trustees formed a committee to solicit design concepts from leading architects. The building was designed by prominent Minneapolis architect Harry Wild Jones and was modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (then Constantinople), Turkey. The interior of the building was designed by Charles Lamb of New York who was inspired by the San Marco Cathedral in Venice, Italy. Construction began in 1908 and the chapel wasn't completed until 1910.


Designed by Harry Wild Jones, it was influenced by Jones' visit to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on his world travels in the early 1900s. Construction of the chapel began in 1908 using St. Cloud Granite for exterior walls and Spanish (Gustavino) roll tine for the dome and other roofs. The one story building follows a modified cruciform plan with a large center dome. The chapel dome is 65 feet high and ringed with stained-glass windows that serve as a sundial telling the time of day and season. Square towers with smaller domed caps delineate each of the building's corners. The front landscaping is composed of beige granite.


Designed by Charles Lamb, the mosaic interior was constructed by six highly accomplished mosaic artists who had just recently completed a project in the Vatican that Lamb hand picked on a trip to Italy. Under Lamb’s direction, an artisan from Lamb Studios laid out the chapel interior’s design on a flat surface, then built molds corresponding to the building’s walls and curves. Working in Venice, the Italian artists created more than ten million mosaic pieces from marble,colored stone, and glass fused with gold and silver. The tiles were attached to gummed cloth and shipped to Minneapolis. The artists themselves did not arrive until the summer of 1909 and assembled the masterpiece inside the chapel by hand. At the time of its completion, the Lakewood Memorial Chapel was the only building in the United States with a mosaic interior.

The Dome

Twelve angels adorn the dome, relating to the Old Testament’s 12 sons of Jacob, 12 tribes of Israel,and 12 gates to the Holy City, and the 12 disciples of Christ in the New Testament. The four angels holding red roses are positioned at the four points of the compass, symbolizing the four corners of the earth. If you stand beneath the chapel’s dome and begin to speak, you’ll notice the effect of Harry Wild Jones’s architectural plan. The acoustics are so nearly perfect that speakers in the chapel’s center or front can be heard clearly throughout the room without microphones. Four large mosaic figures adorn the side walls below the dome. They represent Love, Hope, Memory, and Faith. The four figures are based on paintings by Ella Condie Lamb, a prominent portrait artist and wife of Charles Lamb.

The Alcove

The alcove at the front of the chapel is lined with entwined mosaic olive trees. In 1910, the Building Committee debated whether to extend the row of olive trees over the arches to the left and right inside the alcove,even though the trees over the arches would have no trunks, or to stop the trees before the arches so all trees would stand complete. If you stand in the alcove, you can see that Lamb’s desire to continue the scene prevailed.


In 1996, Lakewood embarked on a year-long project of renovating the chapel. Under the guidance of architect Jim W. Miller, AIA, alterations to the chapel made over the past decades were removed. Yellow paper was removed from behind the stained-glass windows in the dome and the alcove at the front of the chapel. A reddish brown carpet covering the marble floor was taken up. Copper doors and window casings were polished. A large stained-glass chandelier globe, designed by Lamb, was restored to its place above the pulpit. A new computerized lighting system was installed to show the true beauty of the chapel’s interior. Twenty-four lighting combinations allow Lakewood to light the chapel appropriately for each occasion. At the same time, four new torchères(floor lamps)were crafted by contemporary Minnesota artisans to match the metalwork and glass light fixtures already in the chapel. The glass doors that lead from the entryway into the chapel once were covered with curtains. As part of the renovation, the copper frames were cleaned, the curtains were removed, and new glass panes were installed.They were decorated by Minneapolis glass workers with etched symbols echoing those on the bronze doors and the mosaic olive trees inside the chapel.


In 1983, the chapel was added to the National Register of Historic Places with Architecture as its area of significance. Many experts now believe that a work of such magnitude could not be recreated at any price today. Artisans possessing the necessary skills have passed into history.

Current Functions

Today the chapel is in excellent condition and is used for funerals and weddings. The chapel is open to the public only on Memorial Day. Visitors can request Lakewood Cemetery staff to open the chapel for viewing.

Memories and stories

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