196. Architectural Tour: Century Memorial Chapel & the Gothic Revival Style

The Century Memorial Chapel has many Gothic Revival architectural influences. Fashionable architects in the Northeastern states popularized the Gothic Revival style in the U.S., and it quickly found favor among American builders between 1840 and 1870. Architectural writers stressed that it was more suited as a rural than an urban style because of its harmony with the natural landscape. Out in rural areas (like Naperville in the mid 1800s), timber was more accessible than stone, the typical go-to material for many classical Gothic structures (like European cathedrals). Carpenters applied the same styles and principles of Gothic revival architecture on stone to wood, but with more charm and quaintness. Builders commonly decorated stone cathedrals with details that directed you to look above at the heavens. This same principle can be seen in the Chapel’s vertical siding that brings your eye up to the pointed windows and the steep pitch of the roof, which lead to the sky. The Chapel’s other Gothic Revival features include: -Windows shaped like a pointed arch, or lancet. -Windows that extend into the roof gables (the triangular shaped walls in between the sloping edges of the roof). -A roof with a steep pitch, or slope. -Decorative trim along the inside of each gable (also known as vergeboards).