Thorncrown Chapel, Sainte Chappelle, Jim Reed, Ozark Mountains, Arkansas, AIA, American Institute of Architects, E. Fay Jones, Prairie school of architecture, frank lloyd wright, chapel

Built in 1980, Thorncrown Chapel was the vision of owner Jim Reed who hired Jones to create a glass chapel that would celebrate the beautiful Ozark Hills. Inspired by Paris’ Sainte Chappelle, Jones infused gothic inspiration with influences from the Prairie School of Architecture to create an “Ozark Gothic” style for the light-filled Thorncrown Chapel. Although its 1,440-square-foot floor plan may seem small, the chapel’s 48-foot-high ceilings and glazed facade make it feel anything but. Over 6,000 square feet of crystal-clear glass surround the chapel to give the building a sense of weightlessness that visually pulls in views of the forest and natural daylight.

Related: Eureka Springs’ Open-Air Thorncrown Chapel is a Paragon of Environmental Design

Vertical and diagonal cross-tension trusses made from local pine support the Thorncrown Chapel’s dramatic folded roof. The wood is hand-rubbed with a gray stain to match the bark and stone in the landscape. All of the structural elements were cut no larger than what could be carried through the woods—so as not to disturb the natural surroundings—and then assembled on the floor and raised into place. The floor is lined with cool-toned flagstone and surrounded by a rock wall to allude to the Ozark Mountains. The immense glass walls overlook the ever-changing landscape.

+ Thorncrown Chapel