St. James Chapel

One of the 12 buildings comprising the Bethany Retreat Center, this 256 seat "chapel in the woods" serves as the spiritual and physical center of the retreat complex and provides a quiet place for prayer and meditation, as well as a venue to celebrate mass.  The 4800 sf building is based on a modified cruciform plan and is both simple and inspirational in character.  Drawing from the traditional details of Florida vernacular architecture, its whitewashed, board and batten exterior and standing-seam metal roofs are complimented by expansive windows with dramatic views to Lake Martha and the surrounding woods.  The voluminous interior consists of exposed heavy timber trusses with tongue & groove decking, capped by a cupola which allows natural light to spill through the roof structure and down to the altar below.  The classic proportions of the entry portico suggest a historical reference to classic temples, while its quaint sloping the roofs are more in keeping with the agrarian roots of the vernacular style.  A custom bronze Italian crucifix sculpture, commissioned by the Diocese, was placed on axis just outside of the main window facing the lake, and serves as a spiritual reminder as to the source of the natural beauty which surrounds.