The Chapel of the Transfiguration
Ask anyone who has spent time at Kanuga about the Chapel of the Transfiguration, and they’ll likely reply that it’s the heart of Kanuga. Every piece of this historic structure tells a story about the people who were involved in its creation.
Construction of the Chapel
Work on the chapel began in 1938. Scottish born S. Grant Alexander, who lived in nearby Asheville and reconstructed Fletcher’s Calvary Episcopal Church, was employed to design the structure.
The board requested the chapel be built from pine logs felled on the property during an early spring windstorm. While it was a noble idea, the pinewood proved to be too soft and began to lean outwards during the building process. Metal support rods, which stretch from wall to wall, saved the structure. Almost 20 years later, steel channel supports were added under the eaves and through the transepts to prevent further movement.
A Living Memorial
The chapel was dedicated on July 19, 1942. To worship within the building is to step back into time. Those who lift their eyes heavenwards during service see the handprints of the craftsmen who completed the ceiling paneling.
The high altar is from the rotunda of the old Inn, which served as the location for services prior to the chapel. Each pew serves as a memorial, with the last one on the pulpit side dedicated to Rufus Huneycutt, Kanuga’s buildings and grounds superintendent at the time of the chapel’s construction.
A Lasting Legacy
On the rear walls are tablets honoring those who have given memorial gifts, scholarship endowments, and endowments for the Guest Period chaplaincies—serving as a lasting testament to Kanuga’s history.
“The Chapel of the Transfiguration is more than a simple building for Kanuga,” says Kanuga President Michael R. Sullivan. “It is the spiritual home for all of our guests who have found renewal of their mind, body, and faith at Kanuga.”
A Woodland Treasure: St. Francis Chapel
Nestled among the pines, St. Francis is a spiritual sanctuary dating back to Kanuga’s earliest days. Established in 1928 and officially named in 1941, this space offers an opportunity for mediation and prayer while immersed in nature.
Surrounded by Creation
Located near High Rocks and the Stations of the Cross trails, the open-air space has low, wooden benches weathered by time and countless hours of prayer. A simple altar made from native stone is located across a gentle stream that runs under three wooden bridges.
The chapel’s furnishings may be simple, but they serve as a powerful reminder of the generous spirit that permeates Kanuga. The stone altar was installed as part of a private donation, and the clay frontal was donated by the Penland School of Craft, an art school in nearby Mitchell County. Unfortunately, the clay frontal could not withstand the passage of time and was eventually replaced with the current bronze plaque.
A Place for All People
Throughout the years, St. Francis Chapel has hosted numerous services, weddings, baptisms, and quiet moments of reflection. The chapel is on the National Historic Register of Historic Places as part of the Kanuga Lake Historic District.
St. Francis Chapel Memorial Woods, created in memory of Patricia Minkler Howell, is comprised of curved stone walls embedded with bronze plaques holding the names of those who chose Kanuga as a place of eternal rest.
Worship Under the Sky: Lakeside Chapel
With so many beautiful views at Kanuga, it’s no surprise guests are drawn to worship outdoors. Such was the beginning of Lakeside Chapel, which originated near a spot where guests first gathered to worship in 1928.
Created from Tradition
The beautiful views of the lake beckoned, and the current chapel was placed near the Main Lodge and Rocking Chair Porch. The location allows for additional seating and wheelchair access. Up to 200 guests can sit on benches made from South American mahogany and enjoy views of the Kanuga cross on the opposite lake shore.
The chapel was a gift from Kanuga board member and property chairman Jack Jones and his wife, Phyllis, and Mrs. Eleanor T. McCullough and Charles E. Thomas. The chapel was dedicated on August 1, 1987.
A Peaceful Place
Today, Lakeside Chapel is used for evening prayer during Summer Guest Period. Many parish retreats and youth conferences also hold worship services here, and it is an ideal spot for wedding ceremonies.
Surrounded by a mixture of pine and hardwood trees with views of the sky and lake, Lakeside Chapel allows guests to experience God and creation in classic Kanuga tradition.
A Chapel of Simple Beauty: Gehman Chapel
While most of Kanuga’s chapels are located within easily accessible guest areas, one special chapel is located on Bob Campbell Youth Campus. Gehman Chapel was built in 2000 and has served various uses since its construction. It benefits students attending Camp Bob and Mountain Trail Outdoor School. When not occupied by youth campus groups, it can be reserved for services by outside groups.
The rustic post and beam chapel was built in memory of Henry Nevin Gehman through a gift by his wife, Sally Bet Nevius Gehman. Located on a knoll and surrounded by woods, the chapel provides a peaceful place for contemplation.
While the chapel is modest in character, a cross designed by artist Tomas J. Fernandez provides a beautiful and unique focal point. Named Corpus Christi, the metal cross uses positive and negative space to encourage worshippers to discover a new perspective. When the cross is illuminated, the figure of Christ appears in the negative space and reminds us of the divine presence within these mountains.