Sunday, October 18, 2009

Howard's Chapel

This is the story behind a little chapel that I have often stopped at over the years. This chapel has a magical feel to it,many weddings are held here and service is every Sunday for visitors to the park,as always,the doors are always open. There are photos at the bottom of this post. I enjoy history and thought you might find this interesting also. As for me,I have always called this "The Church in the Rock".

DeKalb County Alabama - Milford W. Howard, Builder of Howard’s Chapel
Milford Wriarson Howard was an uncommon man. A self-described dreamer born December 18, 1862 near Rome, Georgia. With little more than 11 months of formal education, Howard began to study law under Major Joseph A. Blance, a lawyer of Cedartown, Georgia who had lost one arm as a Confederate soldier. Howard fulfilled his "impossible" dream and was admitted to the bar one year later.
He arrived in Fort Payne on November 7, 1881 and began studying the statutory law of Alabama before becoming one of the youngest men to ever apply for admission to the Alabama bar. He soon met Sally Lankford and they were married 2 years later on December 2, 1883. They had 3 sons one of which died at only 11 months old.

Howard was an outstanding lawyer and speaker. He traveled, lectured, wrote books, farmed and after an illness he stopped practicing law and invested in a Mexican mine, Louisiana and Texas oil fields and a Salmon cannery in Alaska. He lost money on all of these investments and after a strenuous year’s work on the farm, Howard moved to California.

He returned to Alabama in 1923 and began work on a school for underprivileged children. His wife Sally remained in California. Debts were added to debts and little financial aid came, except frequent checks from Sally Howard in California. Sally spent the summer of 1925 with Howard, already seriously ill with cancer; she died in the fall, soon after returning to Los Angeles. Due to insufficient funds the dream of the Master School was lost.

November 9, 1926, Howard married Stella Vivian Harper "Lady Vivian". She too, was also a dreamer and she and Howard traveled throughout Europe together. Howard had yet one more dream. When he had buried Sally Howard at Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California, he had greatly admired the Kirk ‘O the Heather church there. This church was a reproduction of the Annie Laurie Church in Scotland. He had secretly hoped to reproduce the Glendale Church as a memorial to his first wife. His last accomplishment was getting enough money and materials to build this memorial, though the organ and beautiful stained glass windows he envisioned were never added. A line from Sallie’s last letter was written above the stone altar, "God has all ways been as good to me as I would let him be." The chapel was dedicated at a memorial ceremony on June 23, 1937. Two years after Howard preached the first sermon in the rock-anchored mountain chapel, the aging, broken man became ill. He traveled by train to California, where he died of pneumonia on December 29, 1937 at the age of 75. His body was cremated and Lady Vivian made arrangements to place his ashes inside the huge boulder of the Sally Howard Memorial Chapel in the fall of 1938.

A bronze plaque placed over the boulder reads "Milford W. Howard, born December 18, 1867. Died December 28, 1937. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."


  1. Interesting story - the large rock utilized in the chapel. The people with such dreams that only pass on through.

  2. I love this Chapel. Thanks for the visit.


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