Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings; built works - religious structures - chapels

Designers: Maybeck, Bernard R., Architect (firm); Bernard Ralph Maybeck (architect)

Dates: constructed 1932-1934

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1 Maybeck Place
Principia College, Elsah, IL 62028

Building History

Completed in 1934, this chapel formed the vital spiritual heart of this Christian Science college. The Principia College web site said of the chapel: "From the beginning of the planning of Principia, the student body had requested that the Chapel be the first building constructed, and they asked that it be American Colonial in style. After studying meeting houses and churches in Massachusetts and the exposed site high on a bluff overlooking the river, Maybeck developed a design that involved the use of steel, concrete, and Bedford Indiana limestone. In order to avoid the “institutional effect,” Maybeck placed the windows with uneven spacing. Also, the interior of the Chapel is faced in random-width boards. Considering the Chapel a central feature of the campus, Maybeck worked very closely with Frederic Morgan and often referred to the Chapel as his favorite building at Principia." (See Principia, "Maybeck and Principia College: The College Chapel (1931-1934)," accessed 04/01/2019.) The power of prayer was a key tenet of Christian Science, and this chapel served as a focal point for the campus's spiritual existence.

Building Notes

Maybeck designed the chapel's structure to withstand the occasional, but significant earthquakes that strike the nearby New Madrid Fault. As noted by the Principia web site: "In terms of its dense steel framework, heavy reinforcing steel in the foundation, and footings 7 times larger than usual, the Chapel remains a very permanent structure without cracks in the reinforced concrete over the past 70 years. The Chapel strikes a fine balance between formality and informality. The stonework, while carefully measured, is “shot-sawn,” leaving filings in the grooves to rust and thereby create texture, color and age." (See Principia, "Maybeck and Principia College: The College Chapel (1931-1934)," accessed 04/01/2019.)

PCAD id: 22790