Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Margarite B. Parker Chapel

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Institution Name: Trinity University
Original/Historic Place Name: Margarite B. Parker Chapel
Location on Campus: Upper Campus, One Trinity Pl.
Date(s) of Construction:
1966original construction Ford, O'Neil
Designer: O'Neil Ford
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Modern/pre-WWII (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, engineering, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete slab
Walls: brick
Roof: metal
1966-present (2006)memorial site
1966-present (2006)chapel

The Parker Chapel has remained unchanged since its construction in 1966 except for additional statuary and expanded garden areas. Connected to the Murchison Memorial Tower by means of a plaza-like space, the Chapel evokes a sense of being at the core of the campus and in a very special place. Blending the use of brick, stone, wood, and glass, architect Ford created a distinctive space for worship. Architect David De Long describes it as "clearly one of the most significant buildings on the campus. It is sensitively massed and contains superbly crafted interiors. The exposed parabolic arches of the chapel are also of interest" (Trinity Building Survey Report, 49). A focal point of the chancel is a rare antique tapestry woven at Soho, London in 1730, and designed after one of a series of twelve paintings of Biblical scenes by the artist Raphael.

Originally constructed to serve as the center of religious life on campus, in addition to religious services, the Chapel has also provided gathering spaces for lectures, music recitals, and various student or community events. It serves as a visible symbol of the University's historic association with the Presbyterian Church, which continues today through a covenant (non-legal) relationship with the Synod of the Sun, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.


Dillon, David. The Architecture of O'Neil Ford: Celebrating Place. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1999.

Everett, Donald E. Trinity University: A Record of One Hundred Years. San Antonio, TX: Trinity University Press, [1968].

George, Mary Carolyn Hollers. O'Neil Ford, Architect. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1992.

HHM. Trinity University Building Survey. [Austin, TX: HHM] May 30, 2003.

Speck, Lawrence W. "O'Neil Ford's 'Caring Campus': His Work for Trinity University Spanned a Quarter Century." Architecture 72 (September 1983): 58-61.

"Trinity University." Architectural Forum (March 1955): 130-36.


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Last update: November 2006