starry.jpg (37587 bytes)
In 1874, forty years after its construction, the interior of the chapel was dramatically renovated. Through the generosity of a wealthy trustee, John Cleve Green of New York, the chapel was transformed from a plain Greek Revival meeting house into a mid-Victorian Gothic church complete with stained-glass windows, padded pews, arches made of stencil and plaster, a pulpit apse, and a harmonium.

It was in 1894 that the chapel received its name. Since that year it has been known as Miller Chapel, named to honor Samuel Miller, the Seminary’s second professor.

Then in 1933, in celebration of its 100th birthday, Miller Chapel was moved from its original location facing Mercer Street to the center of the campus. The Rev. James R. Blackwood, Class of 1945, remembers that move vividly. He was fourteen at the time and lived on the campus, where his father, Dr. Andrew Blackwood, was professor of homiletics. He “helped” with the daylong move in May 1933 and describes it this way. “The chapel was jacked up, rollers like big Lincoln Logs were inserted under it, and then a great chain was fastened around its base. This chain was attached to a series of pulleys that were connected to a windlass powered by the engine of a large truck. Very slowly the chapel was rolled to its present location.”

Throughout the summer of 1933, under the direction of the New York architectural firm of Delano and Aldrich, the chapel was enlarged by one bay and a chancel. In addition, the interior was completely renovated with the exception of the balcony. The Victorian Gothic plaster arches, stained-glass windows, and dim religious light gave way to an eighteenth-century Greek Revival interior with exuberant Corinthian columns and pilasters finished in white, gold, and the dark offset of mahogany. The stained glass was replaced with clear glass panes of a faint purple hue, a special “antique” glass made for Miller Chapel by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.

The pulpit apse was replaced by a deep, divided chancel symmetrically furnished with a pulpit on the left, a lectern on the right, facing choir stalls behind, and the communion table flush against the center of the east wall. This third face of Miller Chapel presented an elegant and reverent eighteenth-century Colonial Williamsburg/Low Church Anglican look. The building was rededicated on September 23, 1933, one hundred years to the day after its original dedication.

During the 1933 renovation, a large, four-manual Gottfried pipe organ was installed. It required the use of six rooms in the basement to house all of its pipes. The sound from the organ came through a semicircular golden dome above the communion table. This dome was kept lit throughout the night, providing a warm and comforting glow, a welcome to the occasional midnight seeker or returning traveler.

The installation of a new and larger organ in 1964 and the simultaneous growth of the choir brought about the fourth makeover of the interior. To accommodate the new organ, a three-manual Moeller with 2,709 pipes, the wooden paneling on the east wall was removed and replaced with a gilded wire screen. The golden dome that had capped the chancel pediment was also removed for better organ acoustics. The expansion of the choir seating meant the communion table had to be moved forward to a place between the pulpit and the lectern. Alumni/ae who worshipped in Miller Chapel as students from the 1960s through the 1990s remember a simple, practical worship center filled with light.

Miller Chapel will have a new interior as the next century begins. From its predecessors, it will inherit the polished wood of pew and wainscoting, the incandescence of light, and the prayers of worshippers who have entered its doors to praise God for more than one hundred (37 bytes)

William O. Harris is the Seminary’s archivist.

history-1874-1933.jpg (71655 bytes)
The Victorian Gothic face of Miller Chapel (1874-1933)
history-1933-1964.jpg (62335 bytes)
The Colonial Revival face of Miller Chapel (1933-1964)
history-1964-1999.jpg (62213 bytes)
The current face of Miller Chapel (1964-1999)
arrowleft.gif (1639 bytes) prev.

Copyright 1998 Princeton Theological Seminary
The URL for this page is
[email protected] | last updated 07/08/99

This Issue


Student Life

On the Shelves

outStanding in the Field

Class Notes

End Things

Coming in the
Next Issue...


Back Issues
Summer 1997
Fall 1997
Winter/Spring 1998
Summer 1998
Fall/Winter 1998