Heaven and Earth

Architecture & Interiors


If it seems downright miraculous that a small, wood-framed church, deep in the woods of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, would be named one of the 20th Century’s great buildings by the American Institute of Architects, maybe it’s only fitting. The building, Thorncrown Chapel, is, after all, something of a miracle in itself.

Designed by E. Fay Jones, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Thorncrown was commissioned by a private citizen (school teacher Jim Reed), who owned property on which he envisioned a meditative rest stop for tourists trudging through the woods for views of the Ozark mountains. Jones, who absorbed Wright’s Prairie School teachings, but none of his mercurial temperament, created an unequivocal jewel: a frame of dazzlingly intricate latticework, sourced from Ozark timber; walls of glass; and a simple flagstone floor—a breathtaking sanctuary that seemed to have risen up from the land itself. Thorncrown opened in 1980, rapturously celebrated by the architectural establishment, universally embraced by Arkansans.

Recently, Thorncrown Chapel has garnered less reverent attention. The Southwest Power Company (SWEPCO) has proposed a 48-mile-long high voltage transmission line across the state that threatens the sanctity of Thorncrown’s pristine landscape. A petition aimed at thwarting the proposal can be signed here.


Photos: Thorncrown Chapel

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  1. Jacqui

    Apr 29, 2013 at 5:40 am

    I think this beautiful church deserved to be named as one of the best. The line, style and unique architecture is simply magnificent. You will never see anything like it anywhere around the globe. It is made based on pure creativity and talent. One of the best structures I have seen, ever.

  2. Kelly Rae

    Apr 29, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I wanted to get married in one of these churches so badly. I think the architecture is incredible!!! Great post!

  3. Carmen G. Artist

    Apr 30, 2013 at 4:32 am

    Wow, the architectural design of this church is more than amazing! Also, being able to see the trees through the glass, makes you feel peaceful already :)

  4. Galaxael

    Apr 30, 2013 at 7:15 am

    I have been here several times over the years, and it is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen.

    Definitely go check it out. :)

  5. Brandon Stewart

    May 21, 2013 at 9:33 am

    One of the most beautiful wooden structures of all time.

    • Promila Shastri

      May 21, 2013 at 11:51 am

      Wholeheartedly agree.

  6. Kevin

    Jun 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    What an amazing place to have worship every week. I bet those people feel so close to their God. Ever wonder what the window cleaning bill looks like?

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