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Fort Sam Houston’s Gift Chapel

October 20, 2009
The Post Chapel at San Antonio's Fort Sam Houston.

The Post Chapel at San Antonio's Fort Sam Houston.

Earlier today, a celebration held at Fort Sam Houston marked the 100th anniversary of the post’s Gift Chapel, which was dedicated on October 17, 1909, even though construction on the building was not yet finished. The original dedication festivities were marked by a parade and a speech by President William Howard Taft, who had been in El Paso the day before meeting with Mexican President Porfirio Diaz.

This panoramic photograph, originally part of the Leo M. J. Dielmann Papers, shows President Taft speaking in Alamo Plaza during his trip to San Antonio in October 1909. The President is on a platform in front of the Alamo's Long Barracks; the right side of the Alamo church and the uppermost curve of the its facade are visible beyond the barracks on the right. (SC97.24)

This panoramic photograph, originally part of the Leo M. J. Dielmann Papers, shows President Taft speaking in Alamo Plaza during his trip to San Antonio in October 1909. The President is on a platform in front of the Alamo's Long Barracks; the right side of the Alamo church and the uppermost curve of the its facade are visible beyond the barracks on the right. (SC97.24)

The chapel at Fort Sam Houston was designed by well-known San Antonio architect Leo M. J. Dielmann, and his father, John C. Dielmann, served as the general contractor for the project. Leo Dielmann’s personal and professional papers are housed at the DRT Library; partially because it is comprised of so many sets of oversized architectural drawings and plans, the collection is one of the largest in the library’s archives. A second, similarly extensive, collection of additions is also available for research, although it has not yet been completely processed; a preliminary inventory for the collection is available at the library.

John C. Dielmann's store at 306 E Commerce Street, April 27, 1907. From left to right are Leo M. J. Dielmann, his brother William V. Dielmann, Henry Burns, John J. Jehl, John C. Dielmann, the bookkeeper, and George Theis.

John C. Dielmann's store at 306 E Commerce Street, April 27, 1907. From left to right are Leo M. J. Dielmann, his brother William V. Dielmann, Henry Burns, John J. Jehl, John C. Dielmann, the bookkeeper, and George Theis.

An undated photograph showing the interior of John C. Dielmann's business. Leo M. J. Dielmann is seated on the far right, and his father, John C. Dielmann, is the second man from the left.

An undated photograph showing the interior of John C. Dielmann's business. Leo M. J. Dielmann is seated on the far right, and his father, John C. Dielmann, is the second man from the left.

The collections contain numerous materials – including plans, drawings, specifications, and photographs – that help document the history of the Fort Sam Houston Chapel. The records also demonstrate Leo M. J. Dielmann’s involvement in its development within the broader context of his work on other private and public structures, particularly churches, in San Antonio and throughout Texas.  A selection of these items have been included in this entry. [Please note that, due to the size of some of Dielmann’s original drawings and plans, only a section of them could be scanned and shown here.]

Dielmann's preservation drawing of the chapel's exterior.

Dielmann's presentation drawing of the chapel's exterior, which shows how he envisioned the building would look when completed.

A detail of Dielmann's preliminary drawing of the first floor of the chapel.

A detail of Dielmann's preliminary drawing of the first floor of the chapel.

A detail of Dielmann's preliminary drawing of architectural details in the chapel's vestibule.

A detail of Dielmann's preliminary drawing of architectural details in the chapel's vestibule.

An undated photograph showing the construction of the chapel.

An undated photograph showing the construction of the chapel.

Click here for a full citation of the documents and images included in this entry.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. drtlibrary permalink*
    October 21, 2009 2:28 pm

    Today’s San Antonio Express-News included a story about yesterday’s commemoration at Fort Sam Houston; it can be accessed online at http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/Keeping_the_faith_for_century.html

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