Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Wallace Memorial Chapel

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Institution Name: Westminster College (PA)
Original/Historic Place Name: Westminster Memorial Chapel
Location on Campus: 319 S. Market St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1929original construction and dedication White, M. H.
Designer: M. H. White
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Walls: local sandstone
Roof: tile
1929-present (2006)chapel

To those familiar with the history of the college, the Wallace name is highly significant. President W. Charles Wallace was a scholar who significantly raised the academic quality of the college. In doing so, he stepped on some influential toes and was forced to resign. Shortly thereafter, he died. The former chapel, lost in the fire that destroyed Old Main in 1927, had been a very plain assembly room with ordinary glass windows. Wallace had a dream of a worship center dedicated, as he put it, "To the contemplation of beauty, to the understanding of music, to the art of meditation, to the preaching of the Word of God, to communion with the Unseen and Eternal." He personally raised the funds to fulfill his dream. After his death, those who were aware of the indebtedness of the college to Wallace were influential in re-dedicating the Wallace Memorial Chapel in 1938.

A miniature medieval cathedral with a nave, transepts, and cloistered side aisles, the Wallace Memorial Chapel is considered by many to be the most beautiful interior of all Westminster College buildings. In the pulpit/chancel area is a Scott woodcarving and an organ by Elliott Organ Company. The stained glass windows designed by Rudy Brothers and the distinguished architecture make this place of beauty and worship a suitable memorial to the sacrificial contributions of President Wallace.


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Last update: November 2006