Southern Gothic


When Sergio came to Durham for his job interview, they toured him around the campus and paused outside of the Duke Chapel. “Let’s just stop here and admire the view”, the guide said proudly. A moment of silence, if you like, for one of the architectural landmarks of the area. On one of my weekly trips to the Duke library – long live the “New and Noteworthy Books section”! – I thought it was high time I poke my head inside. After all, the Gothic style arch appears all over campus, in every building.
I didn’t take any pictures inside the chapel as I was the only person there that afternoon (having just missed the daily organ recital) but I think you can imagine that it was impressive, vaulted stone ceilings and large stained glass windows. But – but – there was something missing. It was all very tidy and neat, well-kept – almost too tidy. It didn’t have the layers of soot from centuries of candles or the worn stone floor from thousands of people passing in and out of the church. It brought to mind a church we came across in Arles last year, the Eglise St-Trophime. It was built in the 11th Century and as you walked inside, you couldn’t help but feel all those centuries settle around you and I got that distinctly un-North American thrill of realizing that my feet were walking the path that people have taken for over a thousand years. That they created amazing feats of engineering without factories or machinery or cranes.
Duke Chapel was built in 1935 – well after the debut of the internal combustion machine – which took the edge of the admiration. Pretty indeed but not awe inspiring.
Stay tuned for pictures of the not Southern Gothic but distinctly mid-century modern items we’ve been collecting in anticipation of our move to an unfurnished apartment this weekend. Speaking of which, our new address as of August 18th is:

101 NC 54
Apt. D2
Carrboro, NC 27510

Sounds vaguely like the address of a prisoner, no? Hopefully it won’t feel that way.