Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Ford Memorial Chapel

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Institution Name: Allegheny College
Original/Historic Place Name: Ford Memorial Chapel
Location on Campus: N. Main St. (south of Ruter Hall)
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1901original construction Charles W. Bolton & Son
1939expansion and removal of steeple Unknown
1953renovation Unknown
1993window restoration begun Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: rock-faced Cleveland sandstone
Walls: rock-faced Cleveland sandstone
Roof: slate
1901-present (2007)chapel (used for both Protestant and Roman Catholic services)
ca. 2004-present (2007)theater (performance space)

Significance: education, religion
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The major funding for Ford Chapel came from Captain John B. Ford of Creighton, PA, who was dubbed "father of the plate glass industry in America" for his leadership of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. The original wooden steeple rotted and had to be removed, probably at the same time that the south tower was expanded in 1939 to enable construction of a second exit from the balcony, in accordance with new fire laws. The building was renovated in 1953, at which time the windows in the apse were plastered over, and the Chancel was dedicated in 1954. After damage in a storm around 1960, the north and south windows were replaced with modernistic glass designed by art professors Carl Heeschen and Dick Kleeman.

In the 1990s, the process of returning the building to its original condition began. The apse windows were uncovered in 1993 and restored in 1997, and the north and south windows are being replaced with designs based on photographs of the originals. The Ford-Ballantyne family are the principal donors for the new glass, which is being made by John Meyerhoff.

Members of the Ford family also contributed funds for the original pipe organ, which was designed by W. L. Mayer of Pittsburgh and built by Julius Neef of Philadelphia. The organ was reconstructed in 1947, and a three-manual Tellers Organ was dedicated on April 1, 1998. The latter contains Walker Technical Company digital pipe reproduction components and an R. A. Colby custom console. Ninety-one ranks with 76 speaking stops are divided among the great, swell, choir, antiphonal, and pedal divisions. MIDI compatible, the organ has 12 general pistons, 198 levels of memory, and utilizes 16 audio channels and Walker Company speakers.

Since its construction, Ford Chapel has been the center of spiritual and intellectual life at Allegheny, and is used for various worship and memorial services, lectures, and concerts. It is also a popular place for weddings of Allegheny alumni.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates. Deferred Maintenance and Building Renovation Cost Study [Allegheny College]. Report. [Pittsburgh, PA: Burt Hill Kosar Rittelman Associates], 1999.

Celli Flynn Brennan. Campus Master Plan [Allegheny College]. [Pittsburgh, PA: Celli Flynn Brennan], 2002.

Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates. Allegheny 2000. Master plan. [Belmont, MA: Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates], 1987.

Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates. Heart of the Campus Report. [Belmont, MA: Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates], 1987.

Helmreich, Jonathan E. Historic Campus Tour. Meadville, PA: Allegheny College, 2001.

Helmreich, Jonathan E. Through All the Years: A Browser's History of Allegheny College [working title for publication celebrating College Bicentennial]. Meadville, PA: Allegheny College, forthcoming.

"Old Allegheny." Allegheny College Bulletin (January 1922).

Rolland/Towers. Campus Master Plan [Allegheny College]. [New Haven, CT: Rolland/Towers], 1992.

Smith, Ernest Ashton. Allegheny College--A Century of Education. Meadville, PA: Tribune Publishing Company, 1916.

Stephens, D. M. Old Allegheny: A Handbook of Information. Meadville, PA: Allegheny College, 1921.

Stotz, Charles M. The Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania. New York: William Helburn, Inc., for the Buhl Foundation, 1936.

II. Location of other data:

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