MHT File Photo
Mercy Chapel at Mill Run
Mill Run Road, Mineral Spring, Garrett County
The Mill Run Mercy Chapel and its adjoining cemetery are located on a slight rise of ground in a wooded clearing on the south side of Mill Run Road. It is a one-story, one-room frame structure built on an octagonal plan above a coursed stone foundation. The modified pyramidal roof, now covered with metal, is truncated on four of the facades, forming four small pediments. Possibly unique in the state, it is an unusual solution to the problem of roofing an octagonal building. On the front of the southeast pediment is a small shield with the words "M.R. Mercy Chapel 1874" in black Gothic print. The roof was once covered with wooden shingles, but is now covered with standing seam metal. The exterior of the building is sheathed in German siding. An entrance with two stone steps is located at the southeast end of the chapel. The four-paneled door is topped by a pointed-arched transom with two lights. A small cellar door is located above ground on the northeast elevation. On each of the other six elevations is a narrow 6/6 sash window; the top sash of each is fixed while the bottom sash pivots on the central muntin. The interior of the chapel is a fine example of local craftsmanship and is virtually unchanged since the 1870s. A chair rail runs around the walls, above the level of the window sills, with vertical wainscoting below. The ceiling, which follows the form of the roof exterior rather than being flat, is covered with narrow-width sheathing painted white. A podium with carved altar rail is at the northeast end of the chapel. There are eight pews on the left of the center aisle, and six on the right; the pew ends are topped by a modified fleur-de-lis decoration. Two small graveyard plots lie northwest and southwest of the chapel. The oldest grave is dated 1867, before the construction of the chapel; the most recent is dated 1974. The graveyard to the northwest of the chapel contains graves reinterred from the Methodist cemetery at Selbysport.
Mercy Chapel is significant as one of the most architecturally sophisticated and well preserved octagonal buildings in Maryland. Approximately a dozen mid-19th century octagonal buildings survive in Maryland. Most of these structures are outbuildings, such as dairies or smokehouses. Mercy Chapel is one of only three octagonal church buildings in the state and is the only known octagonal building in the four counties in Western Maryland. The chapel is also notable for its several unusual architectural features not found on other octagonal buildings in the state. Among these are the use of vertical plank construction, a roofing system probably unique in the state and windows with pivoting window sashes.