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The College Chapel's interior was painstakingly restored in 1997 by conservators under the direction of Tony Castro, with assistance from the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. This included restoration of the wall frescoes and the elaborate ceiling and wall detail; many national firms completed the work. The College is currently investing in the preservation and reconstruction of the twin masonry towers that dominate the skyline on the east quad and, along with the single tower of the First Parish Church, are visible from Brunswick's downtown. Richard Upjohn's Chapel occupies a position of importance in American architecture as one of the two earliest examples of the Romanesque Revival in American architecture. The Romanesque Revival is important, because it was arguably this country's first national style of architecture. It started at Bowdoin, and its most famous example is Henry Hobson Richardson's Trinity Church on Copley Square. Gothic and stone, the original Chapel was meant to serve the needs of a combination chapel, library, and picture gallery. The chapel is a collaboration between then-President Leonard Woods and architect Richard Upjohn and is complex in function and symbolism. It solved the College's spatial problems, while providing Bowdoin with a monumental structure that became the focal point of the Quadrangle. The Chapel's design relies on the Latin cross plan. The nave, which is really the Chapel, is flanked by two doors, which appear to lead into side aisles, but instead lead into the literary societies' libraries. These spaces have been modified for classrooms and offices. The east end, Banister Hall, which was designed as a College library, now houses the Psychology Department.
Some of the interior spaces of the chapel will need to be reconfigured to accommodate changing program needs. Since 1955, the Psychology Department, with its classrooms and laboratories, has occupied Banister Hall. With the construction of the new academic building, Kanbar Hall, beginning in May 2003, Psychology will move out of the chapel to more appropriate spaces. Thus, Banister Hall will have space available for other College uses. The College is now in the process of reconstructing the Chapel's granite bell towers, due to their serious deterioration. Bowdoin is also applying to the Save America's Treasures Program to partially cover this expense. Other than this work, the exterior has not sustained extensive restoration or repair since construction was completed in 1854. To ensure that the stone on the towers matched the original, the Facilities Department and the Bowdoin faculty conducted extensive research until they located the original quarry--in Brunswick. Work undertaken to date, including the surveying of the towers' condition, has brought to light many of the original construction documents and materials used for construction. This material will be included in the Preservation Plan.
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