The Memorial Chapel: Design
Three designs for the memorial chapel were submitted. ABMC selected one of two classical designs, despite attempts by the design firm of York & Sawyer to persuade them to accept a Romanesque design. The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) agreed with York & Sawyer, however, and preferred the medieval style of a French Romanesque design. ABMC eventually concurred with the CFA.
The original design was modified in 1927 after Gen. John J. Pershing inspected the cemetery. ABMC requested that the memorial chapel be smaller, both reducing the height of the chapel’s center and shortening the length of the loggias, “so that the chapel will not be too large for its surroundings.”
The Memorial Chapel: Exterior
The exterior walls and columns of the memorial are of Euville Coquiller stone, while the interior is of Slamandre travertine. Steps lead from the access road up to the central memorial chapel. Loggias with tablets of the missing extend out to either side. High above the door, reads the inscription “Dedicated to the memory of those who died for their country.” Across the ends and front of the loggias are the names of places that Americans famously fought in the region.
A sculptured bas-relief of figures representing grief and remembrance at the altar of freedom sits directly above the door with the words, “In sacred sleep they rest” below it. This relief was carved by Alfred-Alphonse Bottiau of Paris, who worked closely with Paul Cret on the Chateau-Thierry American Monument, the memorial chapel at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, the memorial chapel at the Flanders Field American Cemetery, and the Bellicourt American Monument. Bottiau served with the French army between 1910 and 1919.
The bronze ornamented screen of the memorial’s front door was cast by Henry Hope and Sons of Birmingham, England. The metal symbols flanking the door show animals that represent different qualities: the dog, fidelity; the eagle, courage in battle; the squirrel, work and thriftiness; the owl, competence and wisdom.
The Memorial Chapel: Interior
Inside the chapel, the altar is backed by the flags of the United States and the principal Allied nations. The windows contain stained-glass insignias of the American divisions and larger units that served in the American Expeditionary Forces. The stained glass was created by Heinigke & Smith of New York, N.Y.