Home Chapels Are Blessing Backyards Across America

Author: Medieval Institute

Picture of a modern-day chapel in a backyard. Stone building with bell tower with cross on top.WSJ: Over the past three decades, chapels have gained in popularity with modern-day homeowners. Photo: Prakash Patel.

Need a place to get away? The family chapel is not just a relic of medieval manors. Today, families are installing them at home, complete with gold leaf and Roman columns.

What you need to know

  • Chapels are usually small places of worship, prayer and meditation in secular locations like hospitals, schools and homes.
  • In the past three decades, American homeowners have started building chapels more often and more elaborately.
  • Architects recommend designing chapels with natural light, tall ceilings and historical materials or designs.

Since the ’90s, more Americans have added chapels to their homes as dedicated rooms or separate buildings on their property where they can pray or hold ceremonies like weddings and baptisms, said Duncan Stroik, professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and the founding editor of the Sacred Architecture Journal. Usually, homeowners who add chapels to their home are not looking to replace their primary place of worship but to create a physical, personalized reminder of religion’s place in their family, he said.


This is an excerpt from an article published on February 7, 2024, in the Wall Street Journal. Read the full feature article by Sarah Paynter. ND faculty, staff, and students have free access through the Hesburgh Libraries.