Oberlin Then and Now: College Chapel

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Historic photo of College Chapel  Present day view of Tappan Square

Then: College Chapel, 1854, Now: Tappan Square, 1930, Olmsted Brothers


The College Chapel was begun in 1854 and was completed in 1855. Its cost was $10,500. It was located on the campus south of Tappan Hall. It was built of brick, two stories in height, with dimensions 56 by 90 feet. As originally planned, the first floor contained offices of administration, a library room, three lecture rooms for the Theological department, and a room for the men's literary societies. The Chapel occupied the entire second floor, with the platform at the east end.  Its seating capacity was 900. The College Chapel was remodeled in 1876 by the removal of the gallery and by placing the platform at the center of the south side, the seats being arranged in semi-circles, with an added entrance on the west side. The east stairs were used by men, and the west by women. Extensive changes were made in 1883, a projection on the south side was added, providing an alcove for a new organ, and broad stairs on either side were built leading directly into the audience room. A tower was built over the addition for the organ, and in the tower were placed a large clock and a two thousand pound bell. The total cost of the alterations was $5,000; the cost of the organ was $4,000. Again in 1887, the Chapel room was remodeled by the addition of galleries, increasing the seating capacity by two hundred seats, and somewhat later the galleries were again enlarged, providing one hundred additional seats. At this time the total seating capacity was 1200. The Chapel was destroyed by fire January 26, 1903

Source: From the 1936 Alumni Catalogue and a set of building cards created by the College Secretary's office, both located at the Oberlin College Archives

Photo courtesy of Oberlin College Archives