St. Paul's Chapel, now known as St. Paul's Anglican Church, has served the Crownsville/Annapolis, Maryland area for over 150 years. Built at the beginning of the Civil War, the chapel is on the National Historic Register for its unique board-and-batten Victorian Gothic (Gothic Revival) architecture.
The chapel was built in 1861 for Severn Parish members of St. Stephen's Church, in Crofton, Maryland, who resided in the Crownsville area. Early Episcopal churches were normally spaced ten miles apart, which made for a long journey, along rutted roads, for parishioners living four or five miles from their church. Growing parishes, such as Severn, often solved their problem of rapid expansion by building small mission churches for outlying parishioners.
The Reverend Henry Pyne, Severn's rector from 1858 to 1861, spearheaded the project for a chapel in the Crownsville area. Initially, Reverend Pyne held Episcopal services at the Cross Road's Church, a community church shared with the Methodist's, for members of Severn Parish and new members to the church. The success of this missionary effort spurred the members of Severn Parish to raise $700 toward the construction of a chapel. This money, along with the proceeds from the sale of their portion of the Cross Roads Church, was sufficient to purchase land for a new church. The church site had been used as a horse corral at the Crownsville station of the Annapolis and Elkridge Railroad. The chapel was completed in 1861, and was consecrated St. Paul's Chapel by the Bishop of Maryland, the right Reverend William Rollinson Whittingham, on May 10th, 1865.
The first services offered prayers for peace between the States. When the Civil War was concluded, prayers were offered to give thanks for the end of the war and to mourn the death of the soldiers, many of who passed the Chapel on troop trains.
The historical importance of the chapel derives from its architectural importance as a design conceived by the noted architect Richard Upjohn, founder of the American Institute of Architects and its first president. In 1972, the Maryland Historical Trust approved the nomination of St. Paul's to the National Register of Historic Places.
In their nomination they wrote:
St. Paul's Chapel, although lacking a wealth of ornament, would appear to be one of the more modest, and more successful, designs taken from Richard Upjohn's Rural Architecture (1852), the book which supplied design suggestions to small parishes desiring a church of proper proportions according to Ecclesiological principles. The proportional relationship of the major elements of St. Paul's Chapel strongly suggests use of the Upjohn pattern book. Despite its small size, the totality of the design of St. Paul's Chapel results in an architectural integrity rarely achieved in wealthy urban churches.
Two prominent changes have enhanced the church's chancel area since its consecration. The
Reverend B.H.T. Maycock, rector of Severn Parish from 1881 to 1883, conceived of a plan to add a recessed chancel to the end of the church. One day he enlisted the help of one or two others and with tools in hand began to cut out the end of the church for the new addition. The vestry caught wind of the work, and put a stop to the effort, as there was no money in the budget for the project. The idea was so good, however, that the project was ultimately completed by local parishioners in the 1890's, significantly improving the beauty of the church and increasing the seating capacity.
Reverend Maycock's memory was preserved with the dedication of the stained glass window of St. Paul on Mars Hill in the chancel. (See picture above.) It is thought to be over one hundred years old. Also of historical significance, is the church's marble baptismal font, which is believed to date back to the 1730's.
In the early 1960s, Dr. Ward of nearby Crownsville State Hospital arranged for patients to maintain the chapel grounds, overseeing the painting of the church exterior in 1962. For several years, St Paul's was used as the Crownsville Hospital chapel.
By 1966, however, Severn Parish could no longer justify maintaining a chapel only a few miles from St. Stephan's and sold the church to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. The Diocese leased the church to the Society of Friends, who rearranged the white painted pews into a square and removed the altar, pulpit and lecture from the chancel.
In 1986, The Right Reverend Peter Caputo, became the Rector of the Anglican Parish of St. Charles the Martyr in Annapolis, Maryland. The parish separated from the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States in 1978, following the St. Louis Conference, due to changes made in their 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Parish purchased St. Paul's Chapel in 1987 and restored the building and grounds. In 1990, a parish room was added along with modern conveniences such as air conditioning and indoor plumbing. In 1993, a small Sunday school house, resembling a carriage house, was added to maintain the architectural integrity of the property.
Originally an independent Anglican parish, St. Charles the Martyr was briefly associated with the United Episcopal Church of North America and briefly joined the Traditional Episcopal Church. While a part of the TEC, Father Caputo was elected and consecrated to be the first Ordinary of the Mid-Atlantic on October 31, 1993.
On December 4, 1999 (St. Crispin’s Day), the Anglican Independent Communion was formed with Bishop Caputo becoming the Ordinary of the Missionary Diocese of St. Charles the Martyr, which included our sister church of Mt. Calvary Southern-Episcopal Church in Lothian, Maryland. On November 11, 2000, Bishop Caputo resigned as the Ordinary of the AIC due to poor health.
With the election and vote of the AIC clergy, Bishop Robert Samuel Loiselle was raised from Suffragan to Coadjutor and subsequently was nominated and elected the Ordinary of the AIC and the Missionary Diocese of St. Charles the Martyr. Bishop Caputo remained the rector of St. Paul's Chapel until his untimely death on August 15, 2001. He is buried in the church cemetery.
On February 1, 2004, St. Paul’s and the AIC entered a new and exciting period of its history when it became part of the Anglican Province of America. The day was highlighted by a visit by our new Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Walter Grundorf. Under the APA, our Rector, Bishop Bob Loiselle became an Assistant Bishop while continuing as rector of St. Paul’s.
During the 2003-2012 period, St. Paul’s has experienced tremendous growth in its church membership. This exciting period has lead to growing pains for our small historic church and the need for more room. In 2008 a new church building was built next to the older historic chapel and has increased our size substantially. On October 12, 2008, Bishop Grundorf dedicated the new church building. It will allow space for Sunday services, a larger Sunday school, office space and fellowship hall. The new church continues to preserve the historic integrity of the older Chapel and will also allow for church growth. In 2010, St. Paul's assisted in the formation of a new mission church on the Eastern Shore, St. Aidan's in Chestertown, Maryland. God continues to bless this hallowed ground with His presence, from generation to generation.
Bishop Bob retired as rector of St. Paul’s on November 29, 2014 and became our Rector Emeritus. He and his wife Emily now reside in Jacksonville, FL. After an extensive search process, The Reverend Tom Burr was called to be our new rector. Father Tom had served as our assistant rector under Bishop Bob. Father Tom was formally instituted as our rector on December 13, 2015.