Going Inside: St. Dominic’s Chapel

St. Dominic’s Chapel (1965, Tom Biggs, architect)

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).

St. Richard’s Catholic Church, sanctuary (1966-67, Tom Biggs, architect)

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.

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Categories: Architectural Research, Churches, Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Jackson, Modernism, Recent Past

10 replies

  1. very beautiful and very careful–love it. thanks for showing us.


  2. It will be a sad loss.


  3. I suppose that the building envelope does not lend itself to expansion. One wonders whether or not the mosaic tiles and stained glass could (at the very least) be reused in the new chapel. Too bad it can’t be retained in whatever takes its place on the site.


  4. OH NO say it isn’t so!!!!! This is just too awful to think about. Isn’t it interesting that so much architecture of Europe remains – thank goodness – because they don’t destroy it for new and modern structures that can’t come close to the old structures. Boo Hoo this is so painful to read.


  5. Thanks’ for following up on my post.

    Gary E Magee


  6. You’re welcome–thanks for reminding me. It’s a building worth recognizing and I hate to see it demolished.


  7. Those stained glass windows are amazing!


  8. There’s an early postcard image of the chapel and the hospital, before it all got swallowed up in later additions, at Cardcow: http://www.cardcow.com/289053/st-dominic-jackson-memorial-hospital-mississippi/


  9. Last week I returned to St. Dominic’s to check out the latest on the two Chapels.

    The new Chapel is magnificent ! For those not in the Jackson area, this link
    covers the new Chapel.


    I think the new St. Dominic’s Chapel will officially open in May 2012.

    The original Chapel is now locked. No one can enter the sanctuary.
    ( I did learn the old Chapel was built in 1965 )

    I’m glad that many elements of the original chapel have been
    included into the new Chapel.

    On Mar 31, 2012, at 4:07 PM, Gary E Magee wrote:


  10. It makes me sad to think this beautiful chapel may no longer exist. Two of the important events of my life happened there… My capping & pinning/ graduation, I am a graduate from St. Dominic’s School of Nursing.


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