Heinz Memorial Chapel Serves Oakland

The ornate stained glass windows in the chapel hold almost 250,000 pieces of glass in total.

The ornate stained glass windows in the chapel hold almost 250,000 pieces of glass in total.

words: Cassidy Brennan

photos: Seth Culp-Ressler

One nondenominational church still continues to serve the people of the Oakland community today. Built in 1933, the Heinz Memorial Chapel was constructed to serve the people of the community and offer a place for not only religious ceremonies, but also a place for people to learn.

The chapel is dedicated to Anna Margaretta Heinz, who valued education and religion. Her son Henry J. Heinz passed away in 1919, and his three children decided to build the church in honor of their father and his mother. Henry J. Heinz grew up in the Oakland area, where the University of Pittsburgh is located, so his children knew that this was the ideal place to honor him while also serving a purpose for the community members.

The chapel’s interior holds soaring ceilings.

The chapel’s interior holds soaring ceilings.

The breathtaking architecture captivates residents and visitors to Oakland, making it a must see. The outside of the building contains intricate stonework, while the inside has detailed wood and ironwork. Stepping inside for the first time is an event unlike any other. The high ceilings paired with the chapel’s organ make for an exceptional sensory experience.

The Heinz Memorial Chapel is one of a kind, with 23 windows designed by Charles Connick. The windows in total contain almost 250,000 individual pieces of glass. The architectural design, by Charles Klauder, was created in order to have a physical representation of the University of Pittsburgh. Having each window in the chapel designed by one artist is a unique feature to the chapel. Most churches have windows designed by a few artists and not just one.

Today, the chapel still holds services for any religious background. It is nondenominational, which also makes it unique compared to other churches in the area. Students, alumni and affiliates of the University of Pittsburgh are allowed to hold ceremonies such as weddings throughout the year. The chapel holds about 170 to 190 weddings per year.

Currently, many different organ concerts are also being held at the Heinz Memorial Chapel. Wendy Lau, assistant director at the chapel, said the recently refurbished organ makes a majestic sound.

“The organ in the church is just a magnificent instrument, and recently had a brand new electronic system installed,” she says. “Now it has been said that the organ runs as well as a computer.”

The sentimental value of the chapel, combined with the amazing architectural features, makes for the perfect place to visit in Oakland. Any day of the week or time of the year, excluding university holidays, the church is open to visitors.