Berry College Chapel 


College Chapel 01The chapel, was designed by architect Harry Carlson of Boston (who also designed the Ford Buildings) and was built by students in 1915. It was modeled after Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, which was purported to be modeled after the London church designed by the noted eighteenth-century architect Sir Christopher Wren.

The chapel is a gift from Mrs. Curtis James who gave $50,000 for its construction. The gift was made anonymously, and the marble tablet in the narthex of the building was left blank symbolizing the donor's desire to remain nameless. 

The chapel was dedicated on March 5, 1916, and since that time, has been the center of campus life in many ways. In the early days, chapel services were held daily as well as on Sundays. Miss Berry, always seated in the front row of the balcony intently following the whole proceeding, was invariably several words or syllables ahead of the rest of the congregation on the Lord's Prayer or the responsive readings.  

She began a custom of having the verger ring the bell, which had been especially cast for the Mount Berry Chapel, in the tone of B flat at commencement and weddings since she wished the chapel to be associated with the happy times in the lives of the students. She particularly loved weddings, and she went to a great deal of trouble to make them memorable. 

The first couple married in the Mount Berry Chapel were Henry Grady Hamrick, a 1912 graduate who had just finished his first year as head of the Foundation School at the foot of Lavender Mountain, and Ethel Edwards, a 1915 graduate of Berry. They were married at 6 p.m. on June 23, 1917, and Miss Berry helped give them a beautiful wedding. 

Originally seating 750, the chapel was expanded in 1927-28 to accommodate 1,100. O. C. Skinner, industrial manager at the time, called this project the most difficult remodeling job ever undertaken at Berry. The 105-foot chapel tower was rebuilt in 1945-46; steel supports were installed to replace the wooden timbers, and other deteriorating woodwork was replaced. (Bees had stored honey in one of the columns, and several gallons were salvaged and used in the dining halls.) 

Major restoration to the interior of the chapel was completed February, 1997.

Portions taken from Berry Trails, published by Berry Woman's Club, 1977. Used by permission.