On June 2, 1935, the Duke Chapel was dedicated in Durham.
The chapel’s iconic design was the work of Julian Abele, a prominent
African American architect from Philadelphia who designed much of Duke’s
West Campus, and since Duke University is rooted in the Methodist
tradition, Abele planned the chapel for the campus’s center.
Construction began on the building in October 1930 after university
leaders fitted a strongbox of photos and publications inside its
cornerstone. It ultimately took five years and cost $2.3 million, which
would be more than $39.4 million today. The bluestone of the building’s
exterior was quarried near Hillsborough.
Though not officially dedicated until June 1935, the chapel’s first
major use was for Duke’s 1932 commencement ceremony. At that point, many
of the windows had not been installed and the interior was largely
Today, Duke Chapel stands at a majestic 210 feet at the center of
Duke’s west campus. A 5,200-pipe Flentrop organ and 50-bell carillon,
both added since the first round of construction was completed, are two
of the building’s most distinctive features.
This Day in NC History:
Barad-dûr Duke Chapel.