No doubt that yours truly has been on the receiving end of many a citation of the automotive sort. In New York they can pile up fast. Even in fair Charlottesville we likely funded a new Middle School of late. Such notices are easily confused with the chinese takeout menu that was there the night before. Not your best paper stock, the typeface dull, the graphic quality patently uninspired… you know the drill.
Needless to say we were taken aback to find this, perfectly placed under the windshield wiper of our car that had been abandoned somewhat willy-nilly at our fair offspring’s University.
This is the way of life in the DOMAIN, that being the preferred manner and method of referring to the 13,000 odd acres that constitute the grounds of Sewanee, the University of the South.
An anachronism in a world where most academic institutions tend to see ticketing as a way to fund the new private jet for the football coach. Perhaps this is a result of the rarefied air they enjoy at such a high elevation on the Cumberland plateau. Perhaps it is due to the fact that Sewanee is “owned” by 28 southern diosceses of the Episcopal Church and its only graduate school is the School of Theology, the result of which is a forward thinking sense of stewardship, of both the spirit and the land. For more on that sidle up next to the Reverend Tom Macfie, University Chaplain, and over a tea or scotch at the Sewanee Inn he will paint a picture of an exceptional institution well suited to serve our world today and tomorrow. It isn’t new news really. Sewanee has been churning out Rhodes Scholars at a shocking rate so the word is out.
Honestly, have you ever been awarded such a parking ticket? We sent in a donation pronto to a building fund chaired by our offspring (to the left with partner in crime to right). Disregard the bloody mary behind the curtain.
So pray tell what else is there to see in the “DOMAIN“?
Well, first off there is a surrounding cottage community within which students and faculty – perhaps yours truly upon assumption of some role as visiting professor??? – reside like this…
And this… Stunning eh?
Great hiking within the DOMAIN. How about this fifty mile view?!?
And when weather drives you indoors there are plenty of exceptional exhibits such as this within the collection of the Earth & Environmental Systems Department, Snowden Hall. Our offspring had yours truly handcuffed at her side touring though room after room of fossils, geological samples, maps and scientific equipment that are deserving of a separate report entirely.
And this is at the center of it all. All Saints Chapel.
A Ralph Adams Cram chapel worthy of some description. The gold standard. A hullaballoo of a significant architectural sort.
As all of you know, Cram (1863 – 1942) was the go to guy for heavyweight campus plans – Princeton shows off some of his greatest work, but also University of Richmond, Rice University, Sweet Briar College and Philips Exeter to name some – and chapels. We mean CHAPELS. Chapels that are essentially cathedrals. Cathedrals like Cram’s St. John the Divine in New York City.
His two greatest University houses of worship being Princeton University Chapel and the All Saints Chapel at Sewanee begun prior to Princeton in 1904 but not finished until 1957.
Many will likely remind me that by the end of Cram’s life the Gothic Revival thing had become somewhat predictable. Still magnificent but kind of the same, over and over again. Yours truly loves Princeton Chapel, attended on occasion St. Thomas on Fifth Avenue (Cram finished that in 1914), has seen other Cram chapels up and down the eastern seaboard, but whoa nelly, All Saints Chapel is of a different mien entirely.
While Princeton sports the predictable dark and brooding interior, Sewanee All Saints is like a breath of their fresh mountain air and shockingly modern in palette.
Now, honesty remains the best policy so be reminded of the fact that All Saints was completed after Cram’s death. The reigns were to be taken up by the Reverend Edward McCrady, Vice-Chancellor of Sewanee. McCrady (VC from 1951 – 1971) served Sewanee longer than any other head of school. A renaissance man in every sense of the word he was responsible for integrating Sewanee and bringing women on board. He was also fond of the arts and had apparently considered Cram’s good work and designs in great detail. He took it upon himself to get the job done and that he did.
Lots of Tennessee sandstone paired with a beautiful buttery plaster as opposed to dark timbering for much of the walls and perhaps more stained glass than one is used to seeing. The light level during the day is incredible.
Baptismal Font. See the refracted light from the stained glass above?
Memorial plaques above memorial plaques and beside memorial plaques. The layering of history and service that conveys sets our hearts afire.
A memorial chapel honoring those men and women of Sewanee that made the ultimate sacrifice to their Nation.
Our heart palpitates.
And if you were not lucky enough to win a lottery ticket for the annual Lessons & Carols celebration held there in All Saints Chapel this weekend as prelude to every Christmas but had angel friends (Stephen Alvarez is the angel responsible for the photograph below) they might have shared with you a view like this.
That is a view of the candlelight procession from the very peak of the nave ceiling at the crossing looking down to the floor over fifty feet below. Angels see all of the good stuff.
In short, a visit to the DOMAIN is worth a parking ticket. For the literary sort, attending the Sewanee Writers Conference in July you will escape summer heat at that elevation. Magnificent places to stay, much to be said for not only the architecture of school and abutting town, with great food and drink to be had always. Nashville is nearby as well as Chattanooga, both experiencing great urban revivals.
Lastly, we dedicate this posting to our dear friend Dr. Daniel Wilkins Fort a proud Sewanee grad if there ever was one, who passed away 21 December 2015. As they say at Sewanee:
Ecce Quam Bonum