Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Memorial Chapel

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Institution Name: Lawrence University
Original/Historic Place Name: Memorial Chapel
Location on Campus: 510 E. College Ave.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1917-1918original construction Childs & Smith
1964renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: natural stone masonry
Walls: local stone; artifical stone (details)
Roof: steel (truss); Manville 4 GIF; smooth surface, four-ply fiberglass
ca. 1918memorial site (WW I memorial)
ca. 1918-present (2007)chapel
1918-present (2007)auditorium (and concert hall)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (graduation rain site and site for alumni reunions)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (practice facility and recording facility)

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

The Memorial Chapel faces south. Its classical elevations, powerful symmetry, and fine attention to detail, including Corinthian columns, surmounted balustrades, ornamentation, stained glass, and imposing steeple, add to the beauty of this building. It represents a fine example of neoclassical architecture. The building was completed in 1918 with coursed, roughly squared natural stone and artificial stone which form the pilasters, entablature columns, pediments, and balustrades. The tower, with its Ionic highlights, was fabricated out of sheet metal bent to form, creating an imposing work of art. After ten years of fund raising, the 13,400 square foot structure was built and dedicated to the memory of Helen Fairfield Naylor and Myra Goodwin Plantz, both affiliated with the university, the first as the spouse of the professor of Biblical Studies and the second as the wife of President Samuel Plantz. The building is also named in memory of the Lawrence College students who lost their lives in the First World War.

On the whole, most of the building has been remodeled at one time or another, but a portion of the original basement still exists, with a dirt floor surrounding the original footings. The renovations completed over the years include the addition of a Plantz Memorial Organ, installed in 1934; an extensive renovation in 1964, which included the revising of the stage, removal of the proscenium arch, the addition of sound reflection "clouds," new seats, improved sound and lighting systems, construction of stair enclosures, and the installation of air conditioning; and in 1992, steps were taken to prepare for a new Opus 33 Tracker Organ, by installing new supporting members, reconfiguring the stage walls, and replacing a truss which had supported the rear portion of the roof. At this time the stained glass windows were repaired, acoustical treatments provided on the windows, the existing recording booth was replaced, and the electrical and HVAC were re-routed. Since 1992, the organ has been installed, the roof replaced, the steeple restored, the foyer refinished, the stage lengthened, the bathrooms remodeled, the stained glass windows re-leaded, a new sound booth constructed, and the building repainted.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Breunig, Charles. "A Great and Good Work": A History of Lawrence University, 1847-1964. Appleton, WI: Lawrence University Press, 1994.

Schumann, Marguerite E. Creation of a Campus: A Chronicle of Lawrence College Buildings and the Men Who Made Them. Appleton, WI: Lawrence University Press, 1957.

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

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Last update: November 2006