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The only Gothic building on the Bates campus, the chapel anchors the west side of the main campus quad and presents a public face to a city street. It is used for religious services and some cultural events and is a popular location for weddings.
The cornerstone of the chapel was laid November 6, 1912, and the building was dedicated January 7, 1914. Built in the English Collegiate Gothic style by Coolidge and Carlson of Boston, the chapel was financed with a $65,000 donation from Ellen S. James of New York City. Fifty thousand dollars was to be spent to erect the chapel and $15,000 used to purchase an organ and for other needs. At the time of the donation, James requested that her identity not be made public until after her death, which occurred in 1916.
The interior includes a wooden altar and altarpieces, wooden pews, and ceiling trusses decorated with the seals of other liberal arts institutions. The three chancel chairs were given by the class of 1935 and cost approximately $425. The altar windows, designed by Connick Associates of Boston, represent Christ as the Lamb of God. The two symbols to the left and right represent the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The eight side windows were designed by Orin Skinner of Connick Associates and memorialize those who have made outstanding contributions to western civilization. These side windows, donated by various classes, cost approximately $250 each for the small ovals and $500 each for the full figures. The side windows were dedicated November 24, 1946. As one looks from the chapel entrance to the chancel, the modern period is represented by Beethoven and Newton on the left wall and Marie Curie and Goethe on the right wall; the Renaissance by Copernicus, Shakespeare, and Hugo Grotius on the left wall and Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, and Luther on the right; Fra Angelico and Dante on the left and Roger Bacon and Peter Abelard on the right represent the Middle Ages; and representing antiquity are Phidias, Plato, and Euclid on the left wall and Homer, Aristotle, and Virgil on the right.
The original organ was made by Hook and Hastings of Kendal Green, MA. In 1938, Arthur C. James, son of Ellen S. James, donated a $15,400 Estey organ. With 42 stops, including chimes, it more adequately met the needs of the college. The senior class of 1938 donated $550 toward the amplification of the organ and chimes from the chapel tower. This organ was rebuilt and enlarged in 1953 by Andover Organ Company of Methuen, MA. However, by the early 1970s it was in a state of disrepair, and a new organ was commissioned in 1978. At a cost of approximately $180,000, the mechanical-action organ was built by Wolff Organ Builders of Laval, Quebac, and installed in 1982.
Selected collections. Campus survey, aerial photographs, archival photographs. Bates College,