Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Gideon F. Egner Chapel

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Institution Name: Muhlenberg College
Original/Historic Place Name: Gideon F. Egner Chapel
Location on Campus: 2400 Chew St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1929-1931original construction Watson, Frank Rushmore
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: concrete
Walls: Plymouth granite; limestone; cast stone
Roof: slate; copper
1931-present (2007)auditorium (concerts, assembly)
1931-present (2007)chapel (community worship, ceremonial assembly)

Significance: architecture, history, religion
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The Egner Chapel, dedicated in 1931, is regarded by architectural historians and others as one of the finest examples of the "collegiate gothic" style in America. The interior dimensions of the soaring nave are 150 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 60 feet tall. It is divided lengthwise into 10 bays of 15 feet each. Richard carved dark oak woodwork adorns the choir, chancel, reredos, and organ cases. Many believe the Chapel's most impressive single feature is the extraordinary stained glass that fills all with windows. Originally designed and executed by the D'Ascenzo Studios of Philadelphia, all the windows have recently been completely cleaned and restored by Stained Glass Resources, Inc. of New England. At the time of their participation in the project, D'Ascenzo and his partners were considered leaders in the "neo-traditionalist" movement in stained glass, moving away from the aesthetic associated with Tiffany and returning for inspiration to the French gothic, with its intense color and lacelike patterns.

The Egner Chapel has been for 75 years and remains today a place of inspiration, awe, and contemplation. It also celebrates the rich secular and ecumenical tradition of intellectual life. Through thoughtful symbolism and heraldry, the carved stone and wood, the glowing glass, and the soaring space combine to create an architectural masterpiece that clearly stands as a work of art.

I. Bibliographic sources:

A Chapel for Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Brochure. [Allentown, PA: Muhlenberg College, n.d.].

A Greater Muhlenberg. Master Plan. 1916. Special Collections, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA.

Muhlenberg Weekly, October 16, 1929; May 20, 1930; October 9, 1930; March 10, 1931; and June 1, 1931. Muhlenburg College, Allentown, PA.

Swain, James E. A History of Muhlenberg College, 1848-1967. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967.

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

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