Built as a non-sectarian place of worship in 1870, Union Chapel’s unique octagonal design rises into a soaring open cupola with diamond-pane glass windows. Its excellent acoustics, ethereal airy interior, and seating in the round makes an event in this structure intimate a memorable experience.
Designed in the Stick Style by island resident Samuel Freeman Pratt (1824-1920), Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs is one of the island’s most engaging structures. Mr. Pratt had no known architectural training, yet his work is characterized as having a dynamic and festive style, similar to 16th-century French secular buildings. Of the many architectural styles prevalent in the United States during the Victorian era, the Stick Style was the most expressive of a building’s underlying structure. Decorative wood trim, called stick work, was applied to the exterior to emphasize the basic wood frame structure. Popular between 1860 and 1890 and built predominantly in wood, there are few pure examples of the style remaining.
Union Chapel was built (1870) during a time when summer visitors came to the Vineyard by steamer and flocked to the Methodist camp meetings in the neighboring Camp Ground. Lacking a central chapel, the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Co. decided to build a chapel where all forms of theology could be practiced. From the start, Union Chapel has hosted preachers of different denominations from all over the Northeast, each taking the pulpit in turn. To this day, Union Chapel remains a non-denominational place of worship, drawing large crowds for diverse services every summer.
Oak Bluffs, MA