The Belmont Chapel:
Beautiful Altar and Elegant Furnishings
by Francis Girr
The Belmont Memorial Chapel is completed, so far as relates to the structure, but one after another beautiful feature has been added to the interior, and of these the most striking is the altar, recently placed in the chapel– an exquisite work of art that is the admiration of every one of who has been so fortunate as to see it. It is seven feet in length and is composed of Caen stone and different marbles with onyx columns, the later polished like gems.
The center panel bears the sacred monogram, in each of the others there is a cross in relief, and over all are vines delicately carved and tenderly clinging to every point that offers support– cut by hands that realized how beautiful they are and how appropriately used for ornamentation. The corners of the altar are supported by life-size kneeling cherubs, whose flowing robes and graceful wings blend in and make a part of the structure, their hands clasped upon their breasts, and their eyes raised heavenward with a look of love and adoration.
On the super-alter of marble there is this inscription: This Chapel Erected to the Glory of God and in memory of Jane Pauline Belmont. Resting upon the super-altar there is a low cross, of the purest statuary marble, adorned with a wreath of flowers that cling around the word “Patience,” cut in relief upon the arms of the cross. This cross was taken from over the grave of Miss Belmont and upon its base is handsomely carved the following: Jane Pauline Belmont, Born April 11, 1856, Died October 15th 1875.
The whole is a study, and we are not surprised that many persons, hearing of it, have been attracted to the spot. Another recent feature is the chancel rail, of floriated and highly polished hammered brass, resting upon a sculptured base of Caen stone, over and around which ivies cling, cut by the same hands that so faithfully carried out the design for the altar. The benches in the nave are of oak, each bench having its own design. On one the oak is introduced, on another , the fern, then the wild roses, the hawthorn, and so on; no two being alike. The designs of these beautiful features were furnished by Mr. George C. Mason, Jr. under whose supervision they have been brought to perfection. The altar and other stone work was executed by Mr. Robert D. Kelley of Philadelphia; the brass work by the Joseph Newmann co. also of Philadelphia, and the benches by Mr. Thomas S. Nason, of this city.
*The information on this page is a result of research conducted by Mr. Francis Girr of Newport who compiled details he obtained from several newspaper articles.
Analysis of Interior Finishes by Building Conservation Associates, Inc.
At the request of the Belmont Chapel Foundation, BCA prepared an analysis of the historic finishes on the interior of the Belmont Memorial Chapel. In 1891, the chapel interior was decorated with polychromatic botanical designs in distemper paint, which have almost completely disappeared from the walls due to excessive damp. The report is a study of the remaining surface decorations.
Click on the photo to read the analysis and recommendations from BCA.