MHT File Photo
Grace Episcopal Church Complex
Hooper Neck Road, Taylors Island, Dorchester County
On this site on Taylor's Island are three frame structures: a schoolhouse, chapel of ease, and Grace Episcopal Church. The chapel of ease is a frame structure, measuring approximately 20' x 30', on brick piers. It probably dates from the first quarter of the 19th century. On the west gable is a single herringbone batten door. Two 6/6 sash windows on each of the lateral sides light the interior of the former chapel. On the east gable is a recently constructed chimney. The building is used as a meeting room. To the south of the chapel is a small building which was moved here from Mulberry Grove, on the other side of the Island. This building, as the plaque reads, was "The first school house in Dorchester County and was built and used on Taylor's Island. Given to the Grace Foundation 1955." It is now used as a display area and lavatory. To the north of the chapel of ease is a more recent church, probably dating from the third quarter of the 19th century. It is a frame structure built on brick piers in Victorian Gothic style, with very steeply pitched gable roof. The doorway, in the center of the southwest facade, has a Welsh arch, and both leaves of the door are composed of a single panel of vertical boards surrounded by stiles and rails. Flanking the door are two very narrow vertical windows. A pair of larger, similar windows is located above the canopy. Each of the four panes is surrounded by narrow strips of colored glass. At the apex of the gable is a hexagonal window with central Star of David in leaded glass. At the apex of the roof is a small open belfry supported on a pyramidal structure covered with wood shingles. The wind braces of the open belfry form Welsh arches, a repetition of the window motif. There is also a tall, narrow spire with decorative wood shingle roof, at the pinnacle of which is also a wooden cross. German siding covers the exterior walls of the structure, at the base of which is a diagonal watershed board. Along each side are five windows similar to those above the entrance. Between the third and fourth bays of the southeast facade is an exterior brick chimney with weatherings in two positions. Attached to the northeast end of the structure is a small section with a single door on the southeast side. The back or gable of this is composed of two very small windows, similar to those flanking the entrance, and three larger windows, the center one being taller. The building has a wide overhang and is completely boxed. Only at the corners are there brackets. At the juncture of the box cornice and the shingle is an unusual round molding.
Grace Foundation has one of the most complete complexes of church buildings in Dorchester County. The chapel of ease dates from c. 1820 and the church from c. 1873. The latter seems to be the prototype of all the smaller chapels in the county which have Welsh arch windows. Grace Episcopal Church is a Carpenter Gothic structure typical of the small parish churches built in the United States in the second half of the 19th century. This particular example has a very steeply sloped roof and a bellcote with a tall steeple-like roof, giving it a grander appearance than other similar buildings. The chapel of ease is significant as one of the few structures of its size and origin to survive. Its continued use as part of the church complex is also rare. Dorchester Parish was one of the parishes of the Episcopal Church erected in Maryland in 1692-1693. These were the first parishes set up in the province. Dorchester Parish, of which Grace Church is a part, continues to be a separate parish. The school building here is thought to be the first such constructed in Dorchester County. In any case, it is certainly one of the earliest, perhaps the earliest, surviving in the county.