Saint Augustine’s Chapel is the oldest surviving building erected for Saint Augustine University, one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities in the country. It was founded in 1867 by the Protestant Episcopal Church as Saint Augustine Normal School and Collegiate Institute. The chapel was built by students in 1895 under the guidance of Reverend Henry Delany, who had graduated from the school in 1885, and stonemason George Washington Hayes. The design does not conform to a specific architectural style, instead blending medieval, Gothic, and Romanesque elements in what some historians have described as a reflection of the Episcopalian English heritage.
The chapel was originally a rectangular, gable-roofed, stone structure. The local stone, quarried by students, is uncoursed, and the deep shadowy eaves lend the building a medieval appearance. In 1904 the north transept was added, followed by the south transept thirteen years later. The step-gabled southern facade is thought to have been added in 1917 as well. The chapel was first used for Christmas services in 1895, and regular services began the following year.
In 1897, the Saint Augustine campus expanded from its original 46 acres to 110 acres. Today the university is located ten blocks east of the state capitol and anchors two nearby predominantly black neighborhoods, Idlewild and College Park. The chapel continues to serve the university and surrounding community.
Bishir, Catherine W., and Michael T. Southern. A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
Franz, Alyssa. “St. Augustine’s University (1867- ).” BlackPast.org: An Online Reference Guide to African American History. Accessed March 11, 2019. http://www.blackpast.org/.
“History.” St. Augustine’s University. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.st-aug.edu/.
“St. Augustine’s College Campus-- Raleigh: A Capital City: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary.” National Park Service. Accessed March 11, 2019. http://www.nps.gov/.
“St. Augustine’s College Campus,” Wake County, North Carolina. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, 1979. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.