Chapel of the Holy Dove – Exterior in HDR

Last night I threw out a teaser titled The Red Door.  I hope that the photo in the posting made you want to know more about what was behind that door.  Today, I’ll start to fill you in on the details.

Many years ago, when driving on Highway 180 between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, Andy and I came across this quaint little chapel on the side of the highway.  It was such an unusual structure that we just had to stop and check it out.  We found that it is a small church called “The Chapel of the Holy Dove”, and it’s open to anyone who stops by–the door is never locked.

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Since we first found the chapel, we’ve always stopped in to visit when we were traveling by, and I always enjoyed taking photos of it. However, once I discovered HDR photography this year, I knew I’d have to go back there and see what it looked like in HDR. We got the chance to do just that when were were in Flagstaff two weeks ago.

I found a website ( that had some history of the Chapel, which goes something like this:

The Chapel of the Holy Dove sits on a parcel of land originally part of a small ranch purchased by Watson M. Lacy, MD in 1960. He was the only physician at the Grand Canyon Hospital which he operated with his wife, Ruth. They came to this area for respite from the demands of the medical practice at the Canyon. The beauty of the Peaks affirmed the goodness and majesty of God. They wanted to give travelers the opportunity to share it. In the summer of 1961, with the help of his sons and some hired hands, the 41 year-0ld Lacy, with no experience as a builder, used explosives to create holes in the rock beneath the Chapel to secure and position the large Ponderosa Pine logs which comprised the original A-shaped structure framing the San Francisco Peaks. Local volcanic rock and petrified wood was used to build the supporting stone walls. This was a project for intermittent days off from his practice at the canyon. The Chapel was completed in 1962. Dr. Lacy died October 1991. The ranch property was sold but the parcel on which the chapel stands remains in the trust of his widow.

On March 8, 1999, the Chapel was destroyed by a transient’s campfire but the stone walls remained. Shortly thereafter, 18 year-old NAU student, Christen McCracken obtained permission from Mrs. Lacy to raise funds to rebuild the structure. Since the Chapel had become a popular landmark, the local public supported the project. Many materials were donated by Flagstaff merchants. Volunteers supervised by Flagstaff resident Ricky Roberts, completed the current Chapel, similar to the original, in April 2000.

The Chapel is open to All. Four of Dr. Lacy’s six children, the daughter of an Arizona governor and Christen McCracken were married here, besides many others. The chapel of the Holy Dove was named to acknowledge the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, described in Matthew 3:16 as descending “like a dove” above Jesus in commissioning His earthly ministry as God, Incarnate.

The building was dedicated in memory of Dr. Lacy’s brother, George, and nephew, Randy Lacy, who drowned in a boating accident in California in 1957. The original memorial plaque read: “In Memory of George and Randy Lacy whose great love in life and great courage in death made known the Glory of God.” Lacy’s profound grief resulting from the loss propelled great soul searching which led to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Once an agnostic, he discovered “…the Way, the Truth and the Life” was to be found only in Jesus, who said of sacrificial love in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

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The front of the chapel faces directly toward the San Francisco Peaks, giving parishoners a view that will either inspire them to greater things or totally distract them from the minister’s words.  My upcoming posts will give you a view of the interior of this beautiful little gem in the meadows of Northern Arizona.

Both of these photos are HDR’s created from a bracketed set (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) in Photomatix V4.0.  I used Topaz Adjust and Paintshop Pro X3 to do the post-processing.  The photos were shot with my Nikon D5000 and the kit lens (18-55mm, 1:3.5-5.6 zoom), tripod mounted.  The entire series is being posted to my Flickr account in the set entitled “Chapel of the Holy Dove“.  Please drop by and take a look!