St. Mary’s Chapel sits along an Appalachian foothill, overlooking the village of Lafferty, Ohio, nested in the hollow below. First started as a company town during the Ohio Valley coal boom, Lafferty is now primarily an agricultural community with farmsteads populating its outer limits.
The project came about as the result of the loss of the town’s sole church to a house fire that spread from a neighboring property. With no specifics in mind, it was the community leaders hope to replace the former vinyl clad structure with something spiritual and enduring.
For the chapel’s exterior, we interpreted the traditional, single-gable silhouette as a stone and cedar clad archetypal form that communicates with the agrarian out-buildings dotting the surrounding hillsides. The materials were chosen both to keep with local vernacular and to provide the building with a skin that ages with a rugged gracefulness. On the interior, the agrarian metaphor continues as the white oak timber framed structure is revealed. The frame was constructed by local Amish craftsman and erected on-site in a one-day raising, at which the community gathered for a family-style lunch and viewing.
In warm weather, hidden doors situated in the exterior side partitions are released to give views to the pines north of the chapel and the valley below, and allow prevailing breezes to cool the space.