Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren (1825-1898)
July 15th 1881
Most Revd ArchBishop
Visiting a few days since to Mrs. Garfield, a note of sympathy, I enclosed the published
Letter of Your Grace, and called her attention to its contents.
The reply of Mrs. Garfield, which has been instantly sent is in her own handwriting, with
which I am familiar. I have thought it might gratify Your Grace to see that your beautiful
and patriotic act was appreciated.
Will Your Grace kindly return me the letter of Mrs. Garfield.
an obstacle have tried me –
However, the foundations is now being built, under (Wm.?) Smith(Meyer?) OR
(Mr.) Smith(Meyer) as architect.
I beg your pious prayers for success.
Love yr Child in (JC)
Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren
(Archives of the Archdiocese of
From the onset of construction, Madeleine Dahlgren’s private family chapel atop
In a subsequent letter to Archbishop Gibbons dated May 3rd, 1884, Mrs. Dahlgren wrote that -
“St. Joseph’s Chapel, will soon be quite ready to be consecrated as a
marble altar – which will be in its place next month.”
All extant accounts concerning the altar refer to the marble as being imported from
Upon its completion, the English Gothic Revival style St. Joseph’s Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus would boast 18” thick stone walls and buttresses, slate roof, hand-painted and stained glass windows in the Nave, as well as a large rose window in the gallery accessed through the bell tower. It would measure approximately 68’ x 24’ with the attached bell tower approximately 40’ high. Above the marble floors and wainscoting, the interior walls and ceiling were sheathed in native walnut paneling culminating in bracketed and trussed walnut arches supporting the roof.
The chapel was consecrated by Archbishop Gibbons on July 29, 1884 with six additional priests assisting. The chapel, referred to by Mrs. Dahlgren as “the
After Mrs. Dahlgren’s death in 1898 her real estate was passed to her daughter Ulrica Mary Dahlgren (Pierce).