Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Old Chapel

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Institution Name: Randolph-Macon College
Original/Historic Place Name: Duncan Memorial Church
Location on Campus: SW quadrant
Date(s) of Construction:
1879-1882original construction West, William
Designer: William West
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian (Glossary)
Significance: education, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: brick
Walls: brick
Roof: slate
 
Function:
1882-1956chapel
1956-1999theater
1999-present (2006)academic department building (fine arts)
 

Narrative:
The Old Chapel was built by the Methodist Church on the College property as a memorial to the Reverend James A. Duncan, President of the College from 1869-1877. The building was designed by the Richmond architect William West. The two and a half story structure was executed in four-course American bond in a Gothic revival style. The main (west) elevation is dominated by a three-story entrance tower, and the main entrance consists of a shallow porch containing a double doorway, the paneled doors surmounted by a blind transom. Buttresses define the corners of the first-story entrance porch. The second story contains an arched window with diamond-paned lights and geometric tracery, and the third story features a round window that has been blocked. The tower is covered with a mansard roof with projecting gabled windows and is flanked by elongated stained-glass lancet-arched windows. The elevation's remaining fenestration consists of pointed-arch, hung-sash windows on the first story and pointed stained glass windows on the second story. The north and south elevations consist of blocked, pointed arch windows on the first story and stained-glass windows on the second story. The east elevation is obscured by a two-story addition.

The building originally housed the local Methodist Church on the second floor and the chapel/auditorium for students on the first. In 1956, the College converted the structure to academic uses, including a small theatre for live drama on the first floor. Completely renovated in 1999-2000, the building houses music studios, classrooms, and offices for the Fine Arts Department.

Along with Washington-Franklin and Pace-Armistead, it forms the Historic Campus (listed on the National Registry of Historic Places). The area formed by the triangular position of the buildings preserves many old oak and maple trees planted informally. Cement walks connect the buildings.
 

References:

Irby, Richard. History of Randolph-Macon College, Virginia. The Oldest Incorporated Methodist College in America. Richmond, VA: Whittel and Shepperson, general printers, 1898.

Scanlon, James E. Randolph-Macon College: A Southern History 1825-1967. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1983.

Virginia Landmarks Historic Commission. Randolph-Macon College Complex. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/ Park Service, 1979.

Wilson, Richard Guy, et al. Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

 

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Last update: November 2006