Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Island Chapel and Peninsula

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Institution Name: Northwestern College (MN)
Original/Historic Place Name: Island Chapel and Peninsula
Location on Campus: 3003 Snelling Ave. North
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1925-1926original construction Maginnis & Walsh Connick Studios
n.d.landscape design; island landscape near chapel Morrell and Nichols
Type of Place: Landscape site
Type of landscape–
Views and vistas:
Large-scale features:
The chapel, designed by Maginnis & Walsh, is the singular structure on the island.
Other characteristics:
The island is also an archaeological site.
1926-1970other (mausoleum)
1933-1972memorial site
ca. 1970-present (2007)other (storage)
1970-present (2007)archaeological site

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

e Island Chapel was the vision of Wilhemine Coolbaugh of Chicago, who provided an endowment for the construction of the shrine devoted to the Virgin Mary on an artificially-made island that originally was separated from a naturally occuring peninsula. Maginnis & Walsh had dredged a chcross the north end of Lake Johanna peninsula to create it. Early published accounts refer to a student-built "rustic bridge" that soon connected the island to the peninsula. Minneapolis landscape architectural firm, Morrell and Nichols, was hired to landscape the area on the island. The areas around the chapel, in particular, was cleared and a curving path was planned that led from the bridge to the northwest and up the slope to the island entrance.

The chapel was designed and built in 1925-1925 by Maginnis & Walsh, and is a rectangular Gothic revival building with side buttresses flanking pointed-arch windows, surmounted by a steep gabled roof. It was built with a concrete foundation, a granite base from the top of the water table, double walls of oolitic Indiana limestone, and "York" glazed shingle tiles. The roof cresting and cross was formed from a composite material called Hoyt Hardlead. Interior walls were composed of "consolidated Old Gothic" Indiana limestone, pink Tennessee marble, and black and white marble flooring. Connick Studios provided the six stained-glass windows, the rose window, and mosaic decoration.

In 1927, Archibishop Dowling gave permission for Miss Coolbaugh to be buried in the Island Chapel. Her tomb, also designed by Maginnis & Walsh, was placed in the chapel floor. She was buried there on November 22, 1933. When Northwestern College (MN) purchased the campus, the tomb was removed for re-interment to Mendota Heights, Minnesota. The Island Chapel is now closed and used for storage of building artifacts from Nazareth Hall. In recent years, the site has been the focal point of island and campus folklore, with stories circulating about the "ghost of Wilhelmine."

The chapel also recently has become the location of archaeological research. In the fall 2006, an archaeology class led by Dr. Boyd Stevens began conducting a formal excavation of the area surrounding the chapel. Several items have been uncovered and documented, helping the campus community gain a greater understanding of the history of the area.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Baden, Mark, Alisha Cora, Marla Dennison, et al. Northwestern College Historic Preservation Plan: A Plan for the Buildings and Landscape of Nazareth Hall. St. Paul, MN: Northwestern College, 2006.

Baden, Mark. "Designing the Dream of Nazareth Hall." Pilot (Fall 2006): 23-27.

Bloom, Naomi, ed. Northwestern College: A Cloud of Witnesses. St. Paul, MN: Northwestern College, 2002.

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

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Last update: November 2006