Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Phelps Stokes Chapel

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Institution Name: Berea College
Original/Historic Place Name: Main Chapel
Location on Campus: next to Frost Building
Date(s) of Construction:
1903-1906original construction
Designer: Howells & I. N. Phelps Stokes, NYC
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: local stone
Walls: brick (made by students)
Roof: slate
1906-present (2006)auditorium (assembly hall for large gatherings)
1906-present (2006)chapel

After the original Gothic Chapel (1880-1902) burned in 1902, Olivia G. Phelps Stokes promised the funds to build a new chapel, provided that students would build it. The College built a brick factory at Rucker's Knob, cut and cured the oak from the College forest, and, after a trial construction run on the Edward's Building, constructed the building with student labor and College Woodcraft in 1905. This was the seat of the non-denominational church services provided for the interracial student body and townsfolk. No other churches were in Berea during the 1800s. College Founder John Fee eventually broke from Union Church, housed in Main Chapel, and founded the Christian Church, which was built parallel to and across Ellipse Street from Main Chapel. This was the center of religious training and formal services for students, faculty, and townspeople, and it was the site for all major speeches and sermons of both political and religious U.S. leaders.


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Last update: November 2006