Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Clarice L. Osborne Memorial Chapel

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Institution Name: Baker University
Original/Historic Place Name: Sproxton Methodist Church
Location on Campus: east side of campus, facing west
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
ca. 1864original construction in England Unknown
1995-1996construction in U.S. Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: limestone; ironstone
Walls: ironstone
Roof: clay tile
1996-present (2007)chapel

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

In 1864, after nearly six decades of meeting in local homes, a small Methodist congregation in Sproxton, England, finally raised enough money to build their own house of worship. Meanwhile, the Methodist ministers who had founded Baker University were beginning construction on Parameter Hall, the first structure on the current Baker campus. These two groups of Methodists shared only common belief; but in 1987 and 1988 their paths merged in previously unanticipated ways, a convergence that let to the University's first chapel, a spiritual center where the campus community could worship, meditate, wed, and find camaraderie.

In 1987, Daniel M. Lambert assumed the presidency of Baker University and noticed that the campus lacked a place to worship. In 1989, Dr. Dean Bevan, professor of the English department, was asked by Dr. Lambert to look for a building in England that might fill this need, and found the Methodist chapel in Sproxton which had been closed in 1988 due to a dwindling congregation. Baker purchased and moved the chapel in 1995. In November 1995 the first stone was laid by R.R. Osborne, an Olathe, KS businessman whose $1 million gift fully supported the project. The chapel is named in memory of his late wife, Clarice L. Osborne.

Baker made a few additions and renovations to the chapel. The original pews had been sold before the University purchased the building, so Baker commissioned custom pews. Years of neglect, moreover, had rendered the chapel's organ unusable by the time Baker purchased the building. Today the organ has been successfully restored.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Ebright, Homer Kingsley. The History of Baker University. Baldwin, KS: [Baker University], 1951.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections
Other: Baker U. Archives in Collins Library, Baker U.

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