Restricted Should Lee Chapel be Renamed?

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NH Civil War Gal

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As with removal of that circus ring of Confederate battle flags a few years ago, things are slowly being returned to the proper condition of being a memorial to Lee, and not so much a "shrine." Any American should feel comfortable in paying their respects to this war hero. As it is, how many African-Americans, even students of the college, can stand being in the place for longer than 5 minutes, and that out of requirement of ceremony?

I don't think you could get Any American to be in agreement about a number of things, never mind being comfortable about a chapel/shrine/church.

After a certain point, none of us can be responsible for everyone's feelings. I kind of feel, and I could be wrong, that you are looking for some sort of conspiracy here to make someone uncomfortable with that place. Maybe I'm so oblivious to that, that I didn't give the secret password or handshake to the docents to get them to take me to the place of worship so I could worship Lee, but I didn't get the slightest twinge or feeling that anyone was trying to do more than honor the man and talk about the chapel.

Let's get the elephant into the room out into the open - the only way to make this comfortable is to obliterate any trace of almost anything in Lexington connected with Jackson, VMI, Lee, to make it comfortable for Any American (supposedly). And that would be to obliterate Lexington. And that is something, even as a Northerner, I would never, ever contanence, because once it starts, the obliteration of everything, to make it acceptable to everyone, never stops.

As an American Indian, I do NOT get my knickers into a twist about Columbus Day. Contact was going to be made, had already been made, disease inadvertently passed starting in the late 1400s on the east coast with fishing groups from Portugal, nothing was planned. Indians weren't nice to each other tribes, contrary to a lot of myth making. Where would it end if I or we were trying to make it all acceptable for US? Same with the CW - we move forward, try to fix injustices, but we don't obliterate history or people or what went on.
 
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NH Civil War Gal

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Okay - I just called the Lee Chapel and they have never heard of the pews being oriented differently than they are.

They said this sounds like hearsay coming from somewhere else that's been confabulated into the pews were reoriented to "worship" Lee.

While as they say, anything is possible before their time, they think they would have heard about it.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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They also wanted to know where I would hear such a thing and I didn't bring CWT into it. I said, "oh, someone just in talking." I was a bit embarrassed to make the call but why argue about it here when I can go right to the source. Now, unless you think they are covering something up, I would say the pew conspiracy is over.
 

byron ed

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...of the period churches I've personally entered, have the pulpit facing the main entrance...

Yes, just that. The pulpits in churches face the back of the church. What do you suppose Lee saw as he entered from the back of the chapel? The pulpit turned towards the front of church?

By the very written explanation of the University itself today, Lee's mausoleum was added to the back of the church. Of course the current staff has not in its memory ever seen the pews any other way than the way they are now. You really have to talk to the designated historian on the Campus, not some student or volunteer at the Chapel gift shop.

Then ask, why is it so important to defend that the pews have never been turned around?. The answer: because to acknowledge that the pews were reversed is to admit that visually Lee replaced Jesus as the focus of worship.
 
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byron ed

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... As one walks through the "front doors of the chapel" you are looking at the rear of the pews towards the rear of the chapel.

Finally, someone gets it. That traditional chapel layout had at some point gotten reversed at Lee Chapel. That was done by re-designating the traditional front of the church from the traditional back of the church. They didn't want folks having to stream through the Mausoleum to enter the room. I suppose that's the confusion here, that they didn't have to unbolt the pews to make them face the new "front." The pews were reversed by default.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Since I was talking to a paid employee on staff, they weren't a student or volunteer, because I asked, why don't you give Lee Chapel a call and talk to the Director since you seem so all fired sure about this. The number is on the web.

In fact, she specifically said, "The Director has never mentioned, indicated, or brought up such a thing." I'm sure @Viper21 who lives nearby can stop in and ask. Also, if the pews were unbolted and turned, the floor would show that damage in some way and I didn't see any.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Don't see any pew turning here - so it would have had to happen between 1870 and ?

Confederate Veteran, Volume 7, 1899

The visitor to this Mecca of our Southland the tomb of Lee and the grave of Stonewall Jackson Lexington in the Valley of Virginia will be sure to enter this beautiful chapel and look with interest on the pew the lamented President always occupied. Then he will gaze long and with intense gratification on the pure white marble just in the rear of the college platform in which the genius Of Edward Valentine has produced one of the most superb works of art on this continent and given us a veritable Marse Robert asleep. He goes below and gazes with solemn awe on the vault in which sleep the ashes Of America's greatest soldier the world's model man and then he turns into the Office where there are such precious mementos such hallowed memories of the greatest college President which this country ever produced. May the office be ever preserved just as he left it and future generations Of students draw inspiration from the precious memories which cluster there. August 28 1899 The VETERAN has heard that this office furniture which is of antique pattern was a gift from a Miss Jones of Baltimore

I notice nobody is talking about worship here - either the Lord or Lee.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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This is what you see IF the pews were originally oriented like you said they were. It doesn't make any sense with the architecture of this building since there is no platform for a lectern. Just the stairs going to the galleries. I'm putting this picture in for the people who haven't been to the building.
55d51014cb087.image.jpg
 
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The building was conceived, designed, and built to be a Christian chapel and Lee attended that chapel to worship Christ. Since Lee's death the space has been distorted and re-arranged such that the pews no longer face the Cross of Christ, but reversed to the image of Lee in the added sanctuary containing Lee's reclined image. Mrs. Lee intended that sanctuary containing her husband's image to be an addition to the back of the chapel, that her husband might continue as a congregant in perpetuity.

Yet what's happened is that visually the chapel became a place to worship Lee. No foreign visitor would think otherwise. The Lee's wouldn't be happy with the chapel being absconded into what appears to be a Lost Cause shrine.

But things are gradually being corrected. The circus ring of Confederate jacks were removed from the "sanctuary" a few years ago (and rightly, for Lee himself discouraged display of the jack). Black students -- actually all sorts of students -- on the campus resented the appearance of Lost Cause imagery on their campus, and spoke up about it. With the study of history no longer burdened by agenda - the open-source internet containing reams of un-edited period documentation available to all - folks find Lee's actual last command to his soldiers as the Confederacy collapsed: become good U.S. citizens.

Lee certainly didn't want to be worshiped, merely respected, and by rights the chapel should be returned to that device.

Think saying its a place to worship Lee is a bit over the top, Perhaps it is that what you do there. The thread really seems ridiculous to me as it seems it has already been renamed to the Lee Chapel and Museum, and think most people going to museums dont go to "worship" whatever the museums subject is............…However that it orginally was a chapel, one requested by Lee at that, hardly see why it would be inappropriate to acknowledge it in name.
 

Viper21

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Yes, just that. The pulpits in churches face the back of the church. What do you suppose Lee saw as he entered from the back of the chapel? The pulpit turned towards the front of church?

By the very written explanation of the University itself today, Lee's mausoleum was added to the back of the church. Of course the current staff has not in its memory ever seen the pews any other way than the way they are now. You really have to talk to the designated historian on the Campus, not some student or volunteer at the Chapel gift shop.

Then ask, why is it so important to defend that the pews have never been turned around?. The answer: because to acknowledge that the pews were reversed is to admit that visually Lee replaced Jesus as the focus of worship.
Finally, someone gets it. That traditional chapel layout had at some point gotten reversed at Lee Chapel. That was done by re-designating the traditional front of the church from the traditional back of the church. They didn't want folks having to stream through the Mausoleum to enter the room. I suppose that's the confusion here, that they didn't have to unbolt the pews to make them face the new "front." The pews were reversed by default.
Your continued assertion that the pews have been turned is absurd, & honestly ridiculous. I assert again, perhaps if you were to visit Lee Chapel yourself, you'd immediately realize the error in your assertion.

Again, I've been in plenty of period churches, several right here in the same county as Lee Chapel is located. Every one that I can think of, is oriented the exact same way as Lee Chapel is.

I challenge you to submit one single piece of tangible evidence, that the pews in Lee Chapel have been reversed as you continue to assert. I'll wait.....

You'd be better off to admit you were mistaken, & move on.
 

Viper21

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In fact, she specifically said, "The Director has never mentioned, indicated, or brought up such a thing." I'm sure @Viper21 who lives nearby can stop in and ask. Also, if the pews were unbolted and turned, the floor would show that damage in some way and I didn't see any.
I visit Lee Chapel at least once a year. I was literally just there a couple weeks ago. The pews have never been moved.

Here's a photo of the outside of the Chapel from Lee's funeral.

funeral.png

Mourners, many of them in uniform, congregate outside Lee Chapel on the campus of Washington College (now Washington and Lee) for the October 15, 1870, funeral of former Confederate general Robert E. Lee.


Doesn't even look like there is an entrance at the back of the chapel.


Here's a picture of Lee's casket, lying in state.

Lee_Chapel_Lees_casket_by_Miley_1870_Oversize.jpg

What direction are the pews facing..?? Oh yeah, the same direction they are today.


Time Line
  • June 1866 - Washington College president and former Confederate general Robert E. Lee recommends that the college's board of trustees construct a larger chapel on campus.
  • October 12, 1870 - Robert E. Lee dies of a probable stroke at Lexington.
  • October 14–15, 1870 - Following the death of former Confederate general and Washington College president Robert E. Lee on October 12, his remains are carried to Lee Chapel where they would lie in state before his burial in the basement vault.


Lee died on October 12. The crew must've worked pretty fast to turn all those pews in less than 48 hrs, as his body was lying in state inside the chapel
 

JPK Huson 1863

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I always assumed the idea was taken from the old cathedrals, etc. across the Pond. Goodness, how many men and women are ' buried ' in one? You know " Sir Jasper Smythe and his wife Lady Hester ", there they've been in their parish church for 500 years under marble blankets. Those places always bring the past closer for me. No idea why.

We can't control anyone's individual perspective, how someone regards our historical figures. The Lee Chapel means a lot of things to a lot of different people. What can be controlled is making sure the story is told as accurately as possible.

Just drove past four old churches yesterday, hang on, FIVE- one thankfully houses an historical society the others, apartments, a private, ramshackle residence, a darn shoe factory and the other some kind of bedraggled warehouse. No services held there, no respect paid by way of remembering here was once a place holding religious services, no one goes up a wall because stacked mattresses can be seen against those old windows. Kinda wish there were.

Every one dates back 200 years. Seeing one of the old treasures cared for like they've maintained the Lee Chapel is a joy.
 

unionblue

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I am certain that Lee is unconcerned with the present name given to the chapel.

Why shouldn't we adopt his present attitude?

If people who come to visit draw some comfort with the shrine to him in that place, I see no cause for concern.

When I visited the Lincoln Memorial a while ago, I took comfort from the scene and words that were placed there. I might have even prayed and thanked God for having placed Lincoln in that time and place of American history, but I'm very sure I didn't pray to Lincoln.

Preserving memory is one thing, worship another in my own view.

I'm pretty sure Lee and Lincoln knew the difference.

So should we.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

James N.

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DSC05586.JPG

This is what you see IF the pews were originally oriented like you said they were. It doesn't make any sense with the architecture of this building since there is no platform for a lectern. Just the stairs going to the galleries. I'm putting this picture in for the people who haven't been to the building.
View attachment 322143
Here's a larger view of the interior I took in April, 2018. The preposterousness of the idea of the interior somehow being reversed can be seen in the view of the outside, showing how the Lee Chapel is built against the hillside:

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The entrance is naturally at left where the steeple is; the add-on containing the family's mausoleum is at right. When one walks into the arched doorway at its lower level, the Lee tombs are at the right:

DSC05577.JPG

It would be well to remember that not only dastardly, vile, and undoubtedly villainous Rebel General Robert E. Lee is buried here, but also his father Continental General and Governor of Virginia Henry "Light horse Harry' Lee, Gen. G. W. C. Lee, and many other members of the Lee clan as well.

DSC05578.JPG

Just across from the added mausoleum is Lee's small basement office:

DSC05580.JPG

Quite naturally, Edward Valentine's recumbent statue is directly above the mausoleum itself in the arched chamber built at the rear of the chapel to hold it:

DSC05582.JPG
 

byron ed

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Your continued assertion that the pews have been turned is absurd, & honestly ridiculous. I assert again, perhaps if you were to visit Lee Chapel yourself, you'd immediately realize the error in your assertion.

Again, I've been in plenty of period churches, several right here in the same county as Lee Chapel is located. Every one that I can think of, is oriented the exact same way as Lee Chapel is.

I challenge you to submit one single piece of tangible evidence, that the pews in Lee Chapel have been reversed as you continue to assert. I'll wait.....

You'd be better off to admit you were mistaken, & move on.

The university itself, in its history of the Chapel, says Lees mausoleum was added to the back of the church. The BACK of the church. The BACK. In all those churches you've been in, in how many do the pews face the back of the church. Take it up with the University.
 

Viper21

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The university itself, in its history of the Chapel, says Lees mausoleum was added to the back of the church. The BACK of the church. The BACK. In all those churches you've been in, in how many do the pews face the back of the church. Take it up with the University.
All of them. Every church I've ever been in, has the pews facing the pulpit, which is usually 180 degrees from the main entrance, or front of the church. Like I stated already, the preacher can then see anyone entering the church, & walking into the sanctuary while giving the sermon. Ain't no sneaking in, midway through...lol.

I noticed you ignored the photos I shared of Lee's funeral. The inside photo shows the pews facing the exact same direction they are today. Weird.

Still waiting for your to provide one piece of tangible evidence that the pews have been reversed......
 

unionblue

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The university itself, in its history of the Chapel, says Lees mausoleum was added to the back of the church. The BACK of the church. The BACK. In all those churches you've been in, in how many do the pews face the back of the church. Take it up with the University.

@byron ed ,

My church had it's pews facing the back of the church. You go through the main doors at the entrance where the pastor would greet you and then you would move inside, take a pew that was facing the alter and the preacher's podium, at the back of the church.

I've also been in attendance at several other churches and the set-up was the same. Through the main door at the front, go down the alse pick a pew and face the preacher's podium at the back of the church.

I agree with you that the chapel was placed at the back of the church, but I will bet you my entire retirement check for the month, no pews were turned.

Sorry, dude, but on this one, you are swimming upstream against the current.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
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