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Naval Academy Chapel, Maryland, A National Historic Landmark

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Tourist Attractions: Naval Academy Chapel, Maryland, a national historic landmark

Located in the heart of the city is this beautiful and historical Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland. The United States Naval Academy (USNA) has its own Chapel, and it’s one of the most impressive structures on campus. There are Catholic and Protestant services held here.

The Chapel is the tallest building on the Naval Academy Yard, extending 210 feet from the main altar to the top of the Rotunda. It is also home to the Crypt of John Paul Jones.

This important feature led to the Academy being declared a National Historic Landmark by 1961.

Naval Academy Chapel

In 1995, the Chapel was featured on a U.S. Postal Service postage stamp, honoring the Academy’s 150th anniversary.

The chapel facility is also often used for concerts and other special events. One can hear live musical performances and is open all year-around. Please visit the chapel’s website for more details

Traditionally, new third-class midshipmen become “Youngsters” when they sight the chapel dome upon returning from their summer cruise.


Colonel Robert Means Thompson asked Ernest Flagg – an already well-known architect – to design the Naval Academy’s new look. This was at the end of the nineteenth century. His designs resulted in a Beaux-Arts-style design that would become the heart of Naval Academy.

The Chapel was the centerpiece of the design. Over a period of ten years, the project grew in size and cost $10 million at its final completion.

Naval Academy Chapel

In June 1904, Admiral George Dewey laid the foundation stones for the new Chapel. On May 28, 1908, the first service was held.

The Chapel could hold 1,200 people. The original design for the Chapel was shaped like a Greek cross and had four transepts. However, in 1938, the Chapel underwent renovation under Paul Philippe Cret. 

The occupancy increased to 2,500 after the Chapel received a new nave that transformed its form into a Latin cross.

The Main Chapel

Design & Architecture:

The Chapel was untouched after the addition of the nave in 1939. In 1980s, the chapel underwent renovation once again. Many historical items and memorial windows are displayed in the Chapel. 

Designated as a national historic landmark, the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland, stood the test of time. It is the heart of Ernest Flagg’s Beaux-Arts campus design.

Naval Academy Chapel

The original design for the chapel was a Greek cross-plan. Later, the style was modified to a more traditional Cross.

The Naval Academy Chapel houses the largest drawknob organ in the world. The original organ dates back as far as 1908. Moller Organ Company was hired to construct a larger organ to play in the new Chapel. 

The current instrument has 2 consoles and has over 15,000 ranks and 268 pipes. The organ is used in numerous Chapel weddings, memorials, concerts, and many musical concerts throughout the year.

Naval Academy Chapel

A roped-off pew is located on the left side the nave in memory of all prisoners of war or those who were killed in action. The POW/MIA candle can be lit at all services.

It is important because it marks the location of the original chapel and where expansion began.

Naval Academy Chapel

You will find the St. Andrew and Blessed Sacrament chapels on the lower level. These chapels can be used to worship in more intimate settings for Roman Catholic and Protestant communities.

After remodeling, the chapel formed a large cross. The dome over the chapel is copper and the cupola is 193 feet (59 m) above the main altar area.


The dome, which is the focal point of the Chapel and a beacon on the Naval Academy campus, is the centerpiece of the Chapel. Original dome was covered in terracotta. However, due to over time and seasonal temperature changes, the terracotta became porous and shattered.

There were leaks in quite many places which needed to be mended immediately. Also a large chunk of masonry fell inside the sanctuary. In 1928, the dome was covered in a copper-resistant sheathing and the terracotta was taken out.

Naval Academy Chapel

An iconic 210-foot dome topped with a gold spire was originally meant to be covered in gold leaf. However, the cost was simply too high.

The original copper remained nearly 90 years later. However, preliminary repairs revealed that the copper had suffered more damage than expected. A project to replace the entire copper cover was started in 2018 and completed by 2022. 


Nearly seventy-years after the 1940 expansion and renovation, the chapel was subject to a major restoration. The dome’s 20-foot (6.1-m)-diameter oculus (round Skylight) is located 121 feet (37m) above the chapel floor. It had been plastered over for decades due to its poor condition. 

Stained Glass Windows:

Two stained-glass windows face the altar are symbolic. The one depicts Sir Galahad with his sheathed blade, illustrating the ideals for the naval service. The Commission Invisible is the other, and it’s a beacon that every new officer must follow. Christ is pointing him towards the flag. 

Frederick Wilson designed several of the stained glass windows in the Chapel.

Holiday by the Bay concert:

Holiday by the Bay is one of Annapolis’ most beloved traditions which takes place at the Naval Academy Chapel quite often. The event includes a variety of performers and is free and open for all. 

The USNA Men’s/Women’s Glee Club, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and some guest performers will collaborate to create the holiday concert. 

This year’s event will feature holiday music and some new songs. They have compiled a fantastic list of songs that includes some of your favourite Christmas tunes.

The All-ChildrenaEUR(tm)s Chorus of Annapolis, established in 1991 by Liz Barrett, is a notable group of performers. It includes singers from throughout the state. Their concert attracts thousands every year. This is a great way for families to enjoy the holiday season.

The “Hallelujah” chorus is one of the most famous pieces of choral musical music. During the holidays, you can actually hear it in malls.

FAQs About Naval Academy Chapel

How tall is the Naval Academy Chapel?

The tallest building in the Yard, the chapel extends 210 feet from the rotunda floor to the top of the lantern.

How old is Naval Academy Chapel?

Naval Academy Chapel is 115 years old.

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