Historic Old Chapel at UMass comes back to life

  • UMass Amherst freshman students Summer Salisbury, left, Sophie Walton and Caleigh Collamer study Feb. 24, 2017 in the first floor multipurpose space inside the newly renovated and reopened Old Chapel on campus. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • An exterior view of the newly renovated and reopened Old Chapel at UMass Amherst is shown Feb. 24, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Great Hall inside the newly renovated and reopened Old Chapel at UMass Amherst is shown Feb. 24, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • An exterior view of the newly renovated and reopened Old Chapel at UMass Amherst is shown Feb. 24, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • An exterior view of the newly renovated and reopened Old Chapel at UMass Amherst is shown Feb. 24, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Great Hall inside the newly renovated and reopened Old Chapel at UMass Amherst, is shown Friday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • A restored stained glass window in the Great Hall is shown Feb. 24, 2017 inside the newly renovated and reopened Old Chapel at UMass Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

@derricktperkins
Published: 2/26/2017 11:39:45 PM

AMHERST — After nearly two decades of looming, vacant and shuttered, over passing students, the Old Chapel at the University of Massachusetts is once again full of life.

Following a two-year renovation project, university officials Thursday threw open the doors to the historic building. For the first time since 1999, campus community members can study, chat with friends or just relax within its confines.

“The building means a lot to anyone who has gone to school here,” said Larry Rivais, a UMass spokesman and a graduate. “It’s a great thing to have open and healthy and available for everybody.”

For anyone going to UMass in the past two decades, the Old Chapel was a nice building between Memorial Hall and the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. It’s been featured in multiple videos and promotional materials for the university,

This is why Kumble R. Subbaswammy wanted to make renovating the building a priority. While being interviewed for the job of chancellor, he mistakenly wandered toward the Old Chapel. Following his mishap, he made fixing the building a priority.

“I was shocked, frankly,” he said. “I don’t think any other place that you would continue to use this image of the university and anybody asked about it, you would say the icon of a campus is a boarded up building, it doesn’t make a good statement of stewardship of the campus.

Officials closed the Old Chapel, designed by architect Stephen C. Earle and erected in 1884, after first structural and then electrical problems were discovered. Originally used as a lecture hall, religious gathering spot, library and reading room, the chapel’s final act saw it primarily used as a practice for the marching band.

“Presently, the spot will be used as a relaxation point for community members,” said Subbaswammy.”I think it’s a matter of pride for the whole institution. I like to think it’s a matter of pride for the whole community that this historic building has been renovated and brought back into use, both from a practical and symbolic perspective.”




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy