Woolen Mills Chapel is a historic church and contributing property to the Woolen Mills Village Historic District. The Late Victorian chapel was built in the 1880s to provide a non-denominational place of worship and meeting space for local mill workers. It is still used by the neighborhood's residents in the same capacity. Largely unchanged since its construction, the Woolen Mills Chapel was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated on the Virginia Landmark Registry in 1982.
Dating back to the late 1800s, Woolen Mills is one of the oldest
neighborhoods in the Charlottesville, Virginia. The neighborhood is located on the eastern edge of the city, bordered by the
Rivanna River and Meade Avenue. It developed around a mill which operated from the mid 1850s until the 1960s. The mill was the largest employer for local residents and a center of civic activity.
Woolen Mill Chapel was built in 1887 as a non-denominational house of worship in order to provide a religious and social space for mill workers. On August 23rd, president and founder of Woolen Mills, H.C. Marchant, deeded the lot the the Trustees of the Woolen Mill Chapel. Construction began shortly thereafter, funded by public subscription. Charlottesville contracting firm Boyd and Wash oversaw the effort, though much of the labor was provided by residents of the community.
By Christmas 1887, the chapel was already in use. The structure was consecrated on May 13th of the following year. In 1891, the Trustees were deeded the adjoining lot, where an extension was added to the west side of chapel; the 1908 extension housed Sunday School classrooms. Since then, no significant structural changes have been made. The total properties of the Woolen Mill Chapel amount to less than one acre (94 x 78.5 square feet).
Woolen Mill Chapel is a well-preserved, small, wooden church constructed in the Late-Victorian style typical of rural architecture in the late 19th Century. The distinctive Gothic stylization is evident in features such as the pointed carpenter doors and steeply-pitched gable roof. Woolen Mill's Chapel's most prominent architectural element is a green, octagonal, shingle-covered bell tower, which is 50 feet in height.
From 1956 to 1965, the chapel was leased to the Pentecostal Holiness Congregation, afterwards to the Calvary Baptist Church. The Woolen Mills Chapel is still used for religious services and community gatherings. In 1982, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated on the Virginia Landmark Registry; in 2010, the chapel became a contributing property to the Woolen Mills Village Historic District.