Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Willard Chapel: Tiffany Jewel In Auburn, N.Y.

Mary Majerus-Collins / youthjournalism.org
One of the many beautiful stained glass windows in the Willard Memorial Chapel, designed by artist Louis Comfort Tiffany.

By Mugdha Gurram
Reporter
AUBURN, New York, U.S.A. – Walking into the Willard Memorial Chapel is breathtaking. The architectural design and stained glass windows are visual stunners.
youthjournalism.org
One jeweled panel
on the pulpit.
At first, it was hard for my eyes to pick where to settle, because of the busy designs that surrounded me. From the beautiful large mosaic bronze and gilt tablet, to the magnificent chandeliers, to the ever-so-discreet stenciling on the ceiling, it was awhile before I could take it all in.
The chapel is unique in the world, because it’s the only building with an interior all done by artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, who became well known for his ornamental lamps and stained glass windows.
The chapel architecture has both Roman Gothic and Victorian influence in its design and the windows had the blended-colored glass that Tiffany became so famous for.
As most of the other church interiors he’s done have been destroyed, the maintenance of the Willard Memorial Chapel is vital for art history.
Mary Majerus-Collins / youthjournalism.org
A few of the front of the chapel from the back shows the hanging glass chandeliers, the massive pipe organ and some of the Victorian and  Roman Gothic influences.
youthjournalism.org
A part of the chapel where the walls are 
being restored to the original deep red color.
Its interesting past and historical significance add to the chapel’s charm. It was once part of the now-defunct Auburn Theological Seminary that took the lead in producing pastors of all genders and races in early American history, a rare feat back then.
There was also the ongoing fight to preserve the chapel.
(story continues below)
Mary Majerus-Collins / youthjournalism.org
On the back wall of the chapel is a beautiful gold tablet and above it, a group of stained glass windows.
Mary Majerus-Collins / youthjournalism.org
In the photo above are elaborate seats in the front of
the chapel for speakers and other dignitaries.

The photo below on the right shows an area of the
wall where restoration has begun to re-introduce the
intricate stenciling around the windows and the
deep red color to the walls, most of which are currently
white.

In 1989, a man who hoped to turn it into a nightclub bought the chapel. But before he could do it, the Community Preservation Committee took ownership after its successful campaign to "Save the Chapel." The man later went on to open a bar modeled after the nearby state prison.
Looking around, I tried to imagine the chapel like that, but it seemed too different from the silent beauty it has today.
Preservationists are trying hard to raise money for maintenance of the chapel, and more restoration. One of the projects involves restoring the stenciling on the massive organ pipes that line the front of the chapel.
Standing in the Willard Memorial Chapel, I knew that this was probably the biggest collection of Tiffany’s art that I would ever see. With its rich history and stunning interior, no matter what religion you belong to, the chapel is a must-see for everyone. 

Mary Majerus-Collins / youthjournalism.org
The interior of the Willard Memorial Chapel in Auburn, N.Y.

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