Fort Sam Houston’s Gift Chapel
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.
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.
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.]