Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Gothic Chapel

Click on image titles for larger views.
Institution Name: Alfred University
Original/Historic Place Name: The Gothic
Location on Campus: Ford St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1851original construction White, Samuel
Designer: Samuel White
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: wood
Roof: shingle
ca. 1851-1869private residence
ca. 1901-1955academic department building (chemistry laboratory)
ca. 1901-1955classrooms
ca. 1901-1955chapel (of Theological Seminary)
1956-present (2006)chapel (interdenominational)

Serena White Sayles purchased the Gothic's original lot in 1850. Her father, Samuel S. White, of Whitesville, New York, built Mrs. Sayles and her husband, Professor Ira Sayles, the original Gothic home, which was of plank construction. In 1869, the building was sold to the University, and for the next 25 years (1875-1901) it underwent remodeling to serve a variety of purposes. It provided four classrooms for both Alfred Academy and Alfred University classes; it held the library; had student rooms upstairs; and housed the University's chemistry laboratory circa 1896. From 1901 to 1955 it was the home of the semi-independent Theological Seminary (School of Theology), run by the Seventh Day Baptist denomination (Alfred University was founded as a non-sectarian school by a group of Seventh Day Baptists); and since 1956, the Gothic has served as an inter-denominational chapel.

In 1956, the building's site was chosen as the place for the University's new library and the majority of the building was razed. An alumna of the University saved the chapel end of the building, however, and had it moved to a lot next to her home on the corner of Ford and Sayles Street, where it now stands. It became University property once again in 1978 after the alumna died.

The Gothic plays an important part in our campus history, since it is the structure with the most direct ties to the founding Seventh Day Baptists and their School of Theology. It continues to serve a significant portion of Alfred's religious community, as it is used by various groups for special religious services, weddings, and funerals. The Gothic is part of the Alfred Village's Historic District listed on the National Register in 1985.


Horowitz, Gary, ed. A Sesquicentennial History of Alfred University: Essays in Change. Alfred, NY: Alfred University, 1985.

"New York State Historic Preservation Building-Structure Inventory Form," (n.d.) Herrick Memorial Library Archives, Alfred University.

Norwood, John Nelson. Fiat Lux: The Story of Alfred University. Alfred, NY: Alfred University, 1957.

Strong, Susan Rumsey. The Most Natural Way in the World: Coeducation at Nineteenth Century Alfred University. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester, 1995.

Todd, Nancy. Alfred Village Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1985.


Contact us / About Site / About CIC
© 2006
Council of Independent Colleges
Washington, DC
All rights reserved
Last update: November 2006