Alexander E. Duncan's wife, Flora, died in 1936,
their home was in Baltimore, where he had founded
the Commercial Credit Company 24 years earlier.
But his thoughts went back to the time of their
marriage in 1900 and to the place where they spent
their first three years together, Crestwood,
Kentucky, 18 miles northeast of Louisville.
because he was reared on a farm nearby, Mr. Duncan
knew that in the village of Floydsburg, a mile
southeast of Crestwood, lay the rolling grounds of
one of Kentucky's oldest cemeteries. There,
as a memorial to his wife, he built the Duncan
Memorial Chapel in 1936-37, at the same time
enlarging and landscaping the cemetery as a
memorial to his grandfather, William Wesley
Duncan, and to that branch of the Duncan Family,
of which Alexander E. Duncan was the only
surviving male member with the family name.
The Chapel was dedicated on October 24, 1937.
Flora Ross Duncan was buried in the Chapel's
chancel; upon his death in 1972, Mr. Duncan was
buried beside her.
architectural style chosen for the Chapel by
Louisville architect Fred H. Elswick was Early
English Gothic, with transept and nave. The
Chapel and the wall around the Cemetery are of
native stone, gathered from old fences on the
surrounding countryside. Mr. Duncan chose a
boyhood friend, D. J. Abbott, and his firm,
Abbott-McMillan Company of Louisville, for the
Chapel's construction. Mr. Abbott died in
the midst of the work. In 1958 Mr. Elswick
died, and was interred in the Cemetery near the
cut Indiana limestone lines the Chapel walls; the
roof and floor are of slate. Sand-blasted
white oak forms the pulpit, benches, rafters,
arches and porches. A carving representing
Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" on
the altar is the work of F. Pecosta of Waukegan,
Wis., who learned his craft in Oberammergau,
Germany. A grapevine design typical of Early
Gothic architecture is carved into pews, lectern
and pulpit. Henry Lee Willet of Philadelphia
executed the stained-glass windows; before
installation, a portion of one was selected by the
Rockefeller Foundation to be shown at the 1937
Paris Exposition as an outstanding example of
stained-glass work in America.
electric organ with vibrato is installed in the
Chapel. And there is a Schulmerich Carillon
which sounds the Westminster Chimes each hour 8
a.m. - 8 p.m. daily, then strikes the hour.
from the Chapel roof rises a needle like fleche,
or spire; and a shining cross at the top
symbolizes Mr. Duncan's desire that all Christians
use and find comfort in this sacred place.
Use of the Chapel
Mr. Duncan's hope that the Chapel would be an
active community force, available for services,
weddings, funerals, musicales, and meetings.
Weddings have been taking place at an average
number of 350 a year in recent years. The
resident superintendent, telephone 502/241-8392,
will arrange for use of the Chapel.
born May 27, 1878, near Louisville, and was reared
within sight of the Floydsburg Cemetery grounds;
the home of his father, John T. Duncan, burned the
year that Chapel construction began. Also
within view are adjacent farms that belonged to
his grandfather, William Wesley Duncan, and an
uncle, Henry C. Duncan.
Duncan's first job, which he had for nine months
at $15 a month, was with the Bank of Louisville.
In 1899 he erected and occupied a stone store
building in Crestwood which later became the
Crestwood State Bank and eventually the McMahan
Building. On April 11, 1900, Mr. Duncan
married Flora Ross of Louisville, the daughter of
Mr. and Mrs. Alonzo J. Ross of Louisville.
Moving on to Cincinnati, then to Baltimore, in the
latter city he founded the Commercial Credit
Company; it became the country's second-largest
firm of its kind. He retired as it chairman
prior to his death on February 9, 1972.
Chapel and Cemetery maintenance, Mr. Duncan set up
the Duncan Memorial Trust (gifts and bequests to
which are tax-deductible), administered by PNC
Bank, N.A. Louisville, KY 40296.
Village and Its Cemetery
began growing up in the late 18th century and,
upon attaining a population of 150, was
incorporated for a time starting in 1831.
The old Louisville-Frankfort Road, which
stimulated trade here, traversed the northeast
corner of the present Cemetery. The town's
name honors Col. John Floyd, a Virginia-born
surveyor who helped lay out Louisville in 1780 and
reputedly, to ward of Indian attacks, built a
stockade near what became Floydsburg. He was
shot by Indians in 1783 and may have been buried
in a field nearby.
Boulware set aside three quarters of an acre at
Floydsburg in 1799, thus founding one of
Kentucky's oldest cemeteries, and 19 years later
he and Charity Boulware added another acre.
They and other members of their family are among
those buried in the Cemetery's older section.
Floydsburg buildings once occupied the land Mr.
Duncan acquired when enlarging the Cemetery to 16
acres. One was a small schoolhouse facing
Church Street - now the Cemetery's center road -
where he attended his first classes.
Duncan's addition was donated to the non-profit
Floydsburg Cemetery Company, Crestwood. For
questions on burials or information on the purchase of burial space,
contact the Stoess Funeral Home at 502/ 241-9421
and to inquire about arrangements for weddings,
please contact the resident superintendents at 502/
H. Elswick, Architect (1896 – 1958)
Fred Elswick, a native of
, designed numerous prominent buildings within the
area. His largest structure was the Kentucky State
. But, his most notable is the quaint Duncan
Memorial Chapel in Floydsburg,
, which was constructed in 1937. The
English-Gothic style building was composed of
native stone, which was taken from old fences in
the surrounding countryside.
region designs include Our Lady of Peace Hospital
(now known as
), Douglas Boulevard Christian Church, St.
Andrew’s Episcopal Church, two National Guard
armories, and the former
(now known as
). He also designed numerous homes, one of which
later became the Harmony Landing Country Club.
in 1896 in
, he attended
, then served in World War I. He started his
career as a draftsman in Huntington, W. Va., and
later moved to
Elswick won an national competition for a
house design in 1926, and relocated to
to work for W. Earl Otis and Helm Bruce, Jr., who
were partners in a building business. His
first house here was for T. Noonan Ryan on
maintained his connections in
, where he designed numerous residences. In 1931,
he joined the firm of Wischmeyer, Arrasmith, and
Elswick, where he worked until 1945. Elswick
then formed his own firm, called Fred Elswick
& Associates Architects and Engineers.
His firm also employed architects Otto Mock and
Elswick was married to the former Lucille Smoot
) and they had three daughters. He died on
November 6, 1958, and is buried in
, which is adjacent to his charming Duncan
for this bio was obtained from the
Courier-Journal, November 7, 1958, and the