Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Knowles Memorial Chapel

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Institution Name: Rollins College
Original/Historic Place Name: Knowles Memorial Chapel
Location on Campus: east side of old Interlachen Ave.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1931-1932original construction Cram, Ralph Adams Cram & Ferguson
1971addition Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: concrete
Walls: clay block; stucco (facing)
Roof: timber (frame); planking (tongue-and-groove); cork (insulation); clay barrel tiles
ca. 1932-present (2007)chapel

Significance: history
Landmark designation:
National RegisterKnowles Memorial Chapel (1997)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Knowles Memorial Chapel was designed by Ralph Adams Cram, architect of New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the U.S. Military Academy chapel, and Princeton University's first campus plan. Of the more than 75 churches and cathedrals he designed, Knowles Chapel was Cram's favorite ("I like to refer to is as MY church," he said), and he attended services there on his trips to Winter Park.

The Chapel and the neighboring Annie Russell Theatre were constructed in tandem and celebrated a joint dedication. The buildings share a garden and are connected by a tiled loggia, typical of the Spanish Mediterranean architecture that characterizes the Rollins campus.

The Chapel is also noted for its Aeolian-Skinner/Randall Dyer organ (renovated and rededicated in 2002), Rose Window by Wilbur Herbert Burnham, and hand-painted timbered ceiling. The Founders' Bell, which sounded from the Congregational Church in 1885 to announce that Winter Park had been selected as the site of Florida's first college, was placed in the Chapel tower in 1956.

The Chapel has been the home of the Winter Park Bach Festival, the nation's fourth oldest, since 1936.

I. Bibliographic sources:

"The Architect's Guide to Knowles Memorial Chapel." Pamphlet. Winter Park, FL: Rollins College, [ca. 1981].

Campen, Richard N. Winter Park Portrait: The Story of Winter Park and Rollins College. Beachwood, OH: West Summit Press, [ca. 1987].

Cram, Ralph Adams. My Life in Architecture. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1937.

Dunyan, Linda, Joan Grever, and Carl Shiver. Knowles Memorial Chapel. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1997.

"The Knowles Memorial Chapel and its Great Organ." Booklet. Winter Park, FL: Rollins College, 2002.

Lane, Jack C., ed. & comp. Rollins College: A Pictorial History. Tallahassee, FL: Rose Printing Company, Inc., 1989.

Larson, Jens Frederick, and Archie MacInnes Palmer. Architectural Planning of the American College. New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1933.

MacDowell, Claire Leavitt. Chronological History of Winter Park. Winter Park, FL: Orange Press, 1960.

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

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