A while back, reader Gary E. Magee commented on an old post about Jackson architect Tom Biggs that one of Bigg’s designs, the chapel at St. Dominic hospital, is slated for demolition in a planned expansion of the adjacent emergency area. This reminded me that I had taken some pictures of the building earlier this year when I was visiting a family member at St. D’s. I share those here because the building, due to its location, is probably lesser known than some of Biggs’ more prominent designs such as St. Richard’s Catholic Church, Northminster Baptist Church, and Covenant Presbyterian Church, all in Northeast Jackson. Completed in 1965, the chapel was part of a larger building program that included a dormitory for the School of Nursing, now called Rosary Hall (the chapel is the T-shaped building on this map, with the dormitory to the left, including the circular building).
The chapel has much in common with its bigger, younger sister, St. Richard’s, which was completed in 1967. Both are somewhat intimidating on the exterior, relying on sharp angularity and austere masonry forms, but using those same features, possess a feeling of intimacy and even lightness on the interior.
The chapel has less light coming into it than St. Richard’s, where skylights in the aisles seem to infuse the space with light. When I took the pictures at St. D’s, I wasn’t prepared for such low light–I only had my little point-and-shoot and no tripod, so I apologize in advance for the sometimes overly dark photos. They do convey the almost tangible sense of colored light in the building, and the way Biggs used metallic tiles in the mosaic decorations to pull in the limited light from the stained glass windows on the sides.
St. Dominic is building a new chapel across Lakeland, and judging by the way it’s been progressing, I expect it will be complete by the end of the year. So if you want to experience one of Tom Biggs little gems, you should make a pilgrimage to St. Dominic soon.