St. Mary's Spiritual Center Visitor Center

Baltimore, MD

Interpretation of two National Historic Landmark sites
Lobby/exhibit spaces, gift shop, multipurpose room
Salvage and reuse of wood columns, beams, curved brackets, and joists
Improved visitor entry sequence and circulation
St. Mary's Spiritual Center & Historic Site
Programming, Site Analysis, Cost Estimating, Interior Design, Full Design Services, Construction Administration

The new St. Mary’s Spiritual Center Visitor Center responds to the site’s need to interpret the St. Mary’s Chapel, which once served the oldest Catholic seminary in the United States, and the historic Mother Seton House that was the Baltimore residence of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Comprised of two distinct elements and organized around two walls—one brick and the other stone—that are remnants of the original seminary, the center mediates the site’s elevation change and provides access to both structures.  The east side of the brick wall is new construction, simple, but contemporary in design, while the west side incorporates a historic wooden colonnade that defines the eastern edge of the chapel grounds.  A sky-lit covered court provides access to the chapel site, where the setting retains its original presence.

“There were several challenges that confronted the design team from GWWO. ... Navigating these various challenges is a testimony to both their skills as architects and their deep appreciation for the history of the site.” 

—John Kemper SS, Director, St. Mary’s Spiritual Center