Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Colton Chapel

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Institution Name: Lafayette College
Original/Historic Place Name: Colton Chapel
Location on Campus: Quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction:
1916original construction Carrère & Hastings
Designer: Carrère & Hastings (New York)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Walls: Indiana limestone
1916-present (2006)chapel

Lafayette's Colton Chapel (1916) was designed by the distinguished New York City firm of Carrere and Hastings, architects of the New York Public Library. They are noted for introducing Beaux-Arts architecture in America. With its domed rotunda, Palladian windows, and Wren-inspired steeple, Colton exhibits the classical forms and Renaissance ornament that characterizes the Beaux-Arts style. The chapel even makes reference to the earlier building that stood on the site, the Lafayette Observatory. The architects incorporated the stone from above the observatory's doorway and its Biblical inscription into the east wall of Colton Chapel. Unfortunately, the original interior, with its several Tiffany windows, was destroyed in a fire in 1965. As Robert Saltonstall Mattison has noted in Lafayette College Architecture: In Context, "Colton Chapel reflects Renaissance ideals popularized in the sixteenth century by Palladio, re-thought in the 17th century by Wren, and given a Beaux-Arts interpretation in the twentieth century. It is indicative of the enduring nature of classicism and the particular talents of the firm of Carrere and Hastings that these multiple sources could be synthesized into such a fine building."


Mattison, Robert Saltonstall. Lafayette College Architecture: In Context. Easton, PA: Friends of Skillman Library, 1991.

Narbeth, Pamela S. "Historical Survey of the Buildings of Lafayette College." Online (2006). Lafayette College, Easton, PA.

Shear, George. Architectural Style and the Lafayette Campus. Architectural Style and the Lafayette Campus. [Easton, PA: Lafayette College], 1983.

Skillman, David B. Biography of a College: Being the History of the First Century of the Life of Lafayette College. Easton, PA: Lafayette College, 1932.


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