Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel is located in Miramar, a sector adjacent to the islet of San Juan. This neo-Gothic style chapel was one of the structures designed by famed Czech architect Antonín Nechodoma. It was inaugurated in 1908 as the Methodist Episcopal Church. Later, it passed into the hands of the Union Church of Puerto Rico and, finally, to the Roman Catholic Church.
Originally, the San Juan Methodist community, which had congregated in Puerto Rico since 1900, met in a temporary structure until 1906, when it acquired the lot where the church was built.
Czech architect Antonín Nechodoma, who lived in Puerto Rico, was in charge of the design of the temple. Construction began in 1907 and was completed in 1908, the same year it was inaugurated. In 1907, the building passed into the hands of the Union Church of Puerto Rico, a new church that combined both the Methodist Episcopal congregation and the Methodist Presbyterian congregation of Old San Juan. The idea behind this union was to create a church that could bring together Christians of all denominations, especially those who spoke English.
Over the years, the structure became very small for the growing unionist congregation, so it was decided to relocate to Isla Verde and sell the church building in Miramar. The Catholic Church acquired the temple in February of 1959 and named it Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, ascribing it to the San Juan Archdiocese.
Nechodoma’s design displays neo-Gothic characteristics such as the towers at the entrance, the use of the pointed arch, the gargoyles, the stained glass windows, the texture of the stones, and the buttresses. The reinforced concrete structure was given a rustic finish that resembles stone. An iron fence encircles the garden and separates the building from its immediate surroundings.
The building has a nave with a hexagonal apse and an annex on one side. Each of these spaces has a portico entrance. Both the main nave and the annex have a wooden roof with two gables. The church’s main façade is dominated by a square bell tower that is divided into three horizontal bands: the entrances, the bell area, and the peak, which is crowned with gargoyles and battlements. The gargoyles are not only decorative elements, but also serve as water drainage for the roof. On the wall of the façade are a huge window and a stained glass rose window, as well as a Celtic cross that crowns the pinnacle of the end of the gable. The floor is finished in stone from the island.
The original structure has not undergone major alterations. The structure has been listed on the United States Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places since 1984.
Adapted by the PROE Editorial Group
Catálogo de Propiedades, Registro Nacional de Lugares Históricos, Oficina Estatal de Conservación Histórica, Oficina del Gobernador, 1995
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 17, 2014.
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