Buildings and History

Lych GateSt. Columba’s is lucky to have both a rich history, in its beautiful 19th-century stone chapel, and the modern convenience of a spacious new parish hall, which was completed in 2001 and dedicated by Bishop Geralyn Wolf. The elegant and light-filled hall is available for daytime retreats, luncheons, meetings, etc. For details please contact the parish administrator, Kathryn Warren (kw@stcolumbaschapel.org). 

As for the church itself, in 1872, Eugene Sturtevant dreamed of developing the land on which Saint Columba’s now stands. With many neighbors meeting for prayer in their homes, Mary Clark Sturtevant, his wife, saw the need for a chapel. (Mrs. Sturtevant, whose silhouette is behind the organ bench, was the daughter of Thomas March Clark, Bishop of Rhode Island and later presiding Episcopal Bishop of the U.S.) In 1882, Mr. Sturtevant donated an acre for this purpose. A Philadelphia architect, Wilson Eyre, staked out the land.

Parish Hall InteriorThe church was originally known as The Berkeley Memorial Chapel (in honor of Bishop Berkeley of Derry, who stayed in nearby Whitehall). The story goes that its first treasurer felt the chapel should be dedicated to a saint; the Irish-born missionary Columba, renowned for his teaching, healing, and miracles in sixth-century Scotland, was chosen.

Chapel ExteriorThe cornerstone of the chapel was laid on October 11, 1884. The first service was held on June 23, 1885, even though the chapel was not complete. The land, plans, furnishings and windows were all donated, and cost $9,096.15. The chapel was consecrated on August 31, 1886, as a mission of the Diocese of Rhode Island by Bishop Clark (his silhouette is behind the pulpit). The small stone building contains a most precious and astounding collection of stained-glass windows, whether by Tiffany or Maitland Armstrong.

In its early history, the chapel had a close association with Saint George’s School in Middletown. Many of the ordained teachers officiated at services, and before the school’s own chapel was built, boys walked to St. Columba’s for Sunday worship!


 

Church Yard


The Churchyard

The churchyard (with its very English lych-gate) is a wonderfully tranquil place to walk and reflect in every season of the year. It “houses” many members of St. Columba’s who cared for and supported the chapel’s ministry over the centuries, including some with significant roles in Newport history.

There is a committee in charge of the churchyard and its use. For details, please contact Captain Richard Alexander at dickzander22@gmail.com

 

 

The Stained Glass Windows of St. Columba’s Chapel


 

The stained glass windows that grace St. Columba’s, the Berkeley Memorial Chapel, were designed by David Maitland Armstrong (1836-1918) a friend and associate of John LaFarge, and fabricated by the Tiffany Studios of New York.

The chancel window, depicting the archangel Michael, is dedicated to George Berkeley, philosopher and Bishop of Cloyne (born in Ireland in 1681, died at Oxford, England in 1753), who lived for a time at Whitehall in Middletown. The window at the rear of the chapel was given in memory of Mary Devlin Booth by her daughter Edwina Booth. Mary Booth was the wife of the acclaimed actor, Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth, and a resident of Indian Avenue in Middletown. The Booth window shows a figure holding a dove and is therefore often thought to depict St. Columba, though the figure is clearly female and strongly resembles Mary Devlin Booth.

The nave windows, four on each side of the aisle, and the dove window in the sanctuary, were given by various parishioners in memory of family and friends.

Restored in 1995, the windows are considered “a rare treasure of American stained glass art” (Julie L. Sloan, President, McKernan Satterlee Associates).

The cornerstone of St. Columba’s Chapel was laid on October 11, 1884 and the chapel was consecrated by Bishop Thomas March Clark on August 31, 1887. Dedicated to the glory of God and in memory of St. Columba, the Abbott of Iona, the chapel remains to this day a vibrant place of worship, welcoming its members as well as anyone who cares to enter.

To see more photos click here.