Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Mead Chapel

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Institution Name: Middlebury College
Original/Historic Place Name: Mead Chapel
Location on Campus: Main Quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1915-1917original construction Allen & Collens
ca. 1930renovation of interior Unknown
1970remodeled interior Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: marble
Walls: marble
Roof: slate
1917-present (2007)chapel

Significance: architecture
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The marble Mead Chapel remains much as it was built. Its only major alterations have been internal--the insertion of lateral galleries in the 1930s to increase its capacity, and the remodeling of the chancel in 1970 to accommodate a monumental Gress-Miles organ.

The chapel was pledged by Gov. John Mead on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his graduation from the college, with the stipulation that it be set on the highest point on campus so that its spire would reflect the first rays of morning sun and the last light of evening. Its style was the subject of much debate. The architects were noted for their Gothic Revival work, and many favored a collegiate gothic aesthetic; but President John Thomas prevailed in his desire that this be a New England meeting house overlooking a green, and Allen and Collens delivered a distinguished product in the appropriate vocabulary. Built of finely dressed Vermont marble, it combines an external massing and barrel-vaulted interior based on James Gibbs' St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, with a more Greek Revival columnar portico and a more Federal multi-stage spire. By virtue of its position and its form, it stands not only as the most dominant building on the college campus but also as an important landmark on the more distant landscape.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Andres, Glenn M. A Walking History of Middlebury. Middlebury, VT: Henry Sheldon Museum, 1975.

Bain, David Haward. The College on the Hill. Middlebury, VT: Middlebury College Press, 1999.

Johnson, Curtis, B., ed. The Historic Architecture of Addison County. Montpelier, VT: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1992.

, W. Storrs. Father Went to College. New York: Hastings House, 1936.

Stameshkin, David. The Strength of the Hills: Middlebury College, 1915-1990. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1997.

Stameshkin, David. The Town's College: Middlebury College, 1800-1915. Middlebury, VT: Middlebury College Press, 1985.

Wallace Floyd Design Group. Middlebury College Master Plan. [Boston, MA: Wallace Floyd Design Group], 2000.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office

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