The Gardner Earl Chapel

The Jewel of Oakwood, and a National Historic Landmark

A stunning example of Romanesque architecture, the Gardner Earl Memorial Chapel is Oakwood Cemetery’s most significant structure, providing an elegant setting for memorial services, weddings and special events. Opened in 1890, this gorgeous edifice celebrates the Victorian notion of grandeur in death—and offers a window onto the unthinkable affluence of a select few. 

The chapel’s namesake, Gardner Earl, was the son of a fabulously wealthy Troy shirt-collar maker who died young and left a bequest that he be cremated. Cremation as a form of final disposition was then nearly unknown in the United States, though it was popular in Europe, where Earl had learned of it during his travels. 

After taking their son’s body to Buffalo to be cremated, the Earls decided to build the historic chapel and crematorium, sparing no expense. They gave Albert Fuller, a well known Albany architect, a free hand to design the chapel. They asked him to make the building the most modern, artistically beautiful and enduringly strong crematory in the world. 

The building’s exterior is faced with pink-tinted Westerly granite. A loggia of three massive arches connects the chapel with its towers, from which one can view a magnificent 100-mile view of the Hudson River Valley. The sumptuous interior, virtually unchanged in its 120 years, features eight Tiffany stained-glass windows. Marble mosaics in delicate tints adorn the floor and altars. Wainscoting is crafted of pink African marble. The ceilings and pews are all hand-carved quarter-sawn oak. 

In the reception room, there are two breathtaking Maitland Armstrong stained glass windows. The walls are covered with Siena marble from Italy, and the lower walls covered in marble mosaics. Columns are cut from green Brazilian onyx. 

The Earl Chapel and Crematorium has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and is listed in its own right on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Visits to the chapel are available by appointment. Please call our office at (518) 272-7520, or contact us online to schedule a tour, or to find out more about holding a memorial, wedding or other special event at “The Earl.”

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