Epsom Chapel

“It is a plain structure, built of stone, which is rough cast; shape oblong; and it is capable of seating one hundred persons. This Church was built on the site of an old powder magazine, the stones of which were used in its construction. The lot was donated by Mr. Henry B. Chew, the owner of ‘Epsom’, from which estate it derives its name.” Dr. Jackson Piper – Hampton Archives, HAMP 15022, Dr. Jackson Piper’s Manuscript History of Trinity Church (to 1899)
The land became part of the Epsom farm when it was inherited by Harriet Ridgley Chew in 1829. Henry Chew and his second wife, Elizabeth Ann Ralston Chew, donated the land for the chapel. It was constructed on the foundation of an old arsenal of the war of eighteen-twelve north of Joppa Road. It was dedicated on November 30, 1839.

Epsom Chapel

  • 1900
  • Black & White Photograph

  • Baltimore County Public Library

Originally called “Union Chapel,” it was the first place of worship in Towsontown, open for the use of all Evangelical Christian denominations and their ministers. It was to be non-denominational church; according to the articles of incorporation, "open to any Evangelical Minister of the Gospel of any Christian Church." The chapel though was used primarily by Methodists and Episcopalians. There was great difficulty in finding non-Methodist ministers, and efforts to find Episcopal ministers were not very successful. Soon after the chapel’s first Episcopal minster, Rev. Charles R. Howard, arrived in 1857, the Episcopalians broke off and began their own church, meeting at the Odd Fellows Hall from 1858 to 1860. Towson’s Methodists, however, soon faced problems of their own.

The years before the Civil War saw the Methodist Church split into two factions: one called the Methodist Episcopal Church, the other called the Methodist Protestant Church. The two factions continued to worship together in Towson until the Civil War broke out. The southern-leaning Methodist Protestants left Epsom Chapel to worship at Odd Fellows Hall. After the war, this group returned to Epsom Chapel. The Episcopal Methodists, however, soon left and built their own church, and the remaining Methodists too had their own church by 1909. The town’s Presbyterians met at Epsom Chapel during the 1920s until their own church was constructed.

Soon, the chapel ceased to be used for religious purposes, and it was returned to the Chew Estate. When Goucher College purchased the Chew Estate in 1921 ownership of the chapel passed to the college.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Towson Boy Scout Troop #28 used the chapel as a headquarters. During the Second World War, the college allowed the government to use "the old Epsom Chapel" as a daycare center for the children of mothers employed in war industry plants.
"The old Epsom Chapel on the campus enabled Goucher to make a contribution to community welfare when, with permission to renovate and to add a wing, it was leased to the Pre-school Center of Baltimore County, Inc. for the purpose of providing for children of mothers working in war industry plants. Here children from 2 to 6 years of age gathered, providing also a demonstration school and laboratory for Goucher students interested in Child Development." "The Nursery School," Goucher Alumnae Quarterly Vol. XXVI, No. 2 (Winter 1948), p. 19
The chapel continued to be used as a day nursery after the war, although as the need gradually diminished, the nursery became a private school open to the general public. In 1949, the college also allowed a Christian Science congregation to use the building. Goucher sold the land upon which the chapel stood to the Hutzler family by 1950. The chapel, "a monument to the pioneer tradition that belongs to all America," was torn down in 1952 to make way for an office building and parking lot.