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Ira Allen Chapel

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1925–1926, William M. Kendall for McKim, Mead and White

Forty years after President Buckham began the monumental development of University Row, his scheme was completed at its north end with the replacement of the old president's house by the chapel. Had university necessities not intervened, Buckham would have inaugurated the building campaign with the chapel, rather than conclude with it. In any event, it was finally realized with funds donated by Manchester financier and antiquarian James B. Wilbur in commemoration of UVM's founder, Ira Allen. The Latin cross– plan chapel with its octagonal domed crossing and flanking campanile is in the Colonial Revival style.

Colonial Revival had become a major aesthetic on American campuses in the first third of the twentieth century, largely as a result of the work of McKim, Mead and White at the University of Virginia and Harvard. At UVM, William M. Kendall, a second-generation member of the firm and a senior partner, used a Palladian clarity of massing, a temple portico, and a brick-and-wood, red-and-white scheme evocative of the campus at Charlottesville. He gave the building a New England Federal quality, though, with his inventive eclecticism; flattened, linear crispness; and light decorativeness. The contrast with the dark, massiveness of the adjacent Billings Library is striking, but Kendall remained conscious of the need to coordinate with University Row. The chapel's relatively low body resonates with the horizontality of Billings, but appended to its north is a powerful vertical accent to compensate for the heights of Williams Science Hall (CH19.3) and Old Mill farther south. The asymmetrically placed, one-hundred-and-seventy-foot campanile with its Palladian belfry, double lanterns, and gilded dome gives the chapel an appropriate importance and creates a dramatic terminus for the row where it meets with Pearl Street.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Ira Allen Chapel", [Burlington, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 153-153.

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