Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Skinner Memorial Chapel celebrates 100th birthday on cusp of Sesquicentennial

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-97c4df5f-c444-55ee-2d62-62d103b0b164">Dedicated 100 years ago this week, Skinner Memorial Chapel is celebrating its centennial. The monolithic gray stone building—sometimes heard playing eerie bell renditions of Star Wars—is perhaps the most recognizable building on campus, thanks to its beautiful English gothic architecture and majestic bell tower that commands the campus center. From convocations, to religious services, to concerts, the Chapel has been home to a wide variety of events.

Replacing many smaller chapels located in dormitories, Skinner Memorial Chapel was a physical embodiment of and promise to the Christian character on which Carleton was founded. Financed by a gift from Emily Willey Skinner in honor of her late husband, trustee Miron Skinner, the chapel was dedicated by Carleton President Donald Cowling. Although architect Raymond Flynn designed it, the president at the time significantly influenced its shape.

“It was really designed by  Donald Cowling,” said College Chaplain Carolyn Fure-Slocum. “He had a major hand with the architects in designing this building.”

The longest serving college president to date, Donald Cowling oversaw the construction of many different campus buildings during his 36-year tenure. However, when planning the chapel, he sought to create a unique edifice.

“He is the one who pushed for it to be in stone, not brick,” said Chaplain Fure-Slocum. He also commissioned a tower for the building. “He really wanted it to stand out differently from the other buildings.”

On Thursday, September 29th, the chapel celebrated its centennial with a dinner and speeches from college officials. One guest speaker, Reverend Sharon Prestemon, from the Minnesota Conference UCC, reflected on the purpose of the Chapel in Carleton’s past and future.  

“At each step on this path, Carleton has been faithful and attentive: to its origins, to its students, and to the wider, ever-changing world in which we live,” said Reverend Prestemon. “May that same commitment to fostering the intersection of learning with deeper purpose and meaning remain central to who Carleton College will be in the hundred years and more that stretch before you.”

In honor of the centennial, two new banners hang in Skinner Memorial Chapel. Featuring a depiction of the maze located on Stewsie Island and agrarian pastoral scenes, these new banners epitomize the non-denominational spirit and the passion for learning that characterizes Carleton.

A new book recounting the history of the Chapel, written by former associate dean of students Bruce Cladwell, is available for purchase on campus. Calwell’s book was funded in part by several Minnesota legacy grants,  and found additional funding to print.

In addition to the chapel centennial, the Chaplain’s office is celebrating its 70th anniversary. President Larry Gould established Carleton’s chaplaincy in 1946, in part because he was unable to perform the function as his predecessors had done.

“All the presidents up until then were ordained clergy,” explained Chaplain Fure-Slocum. “Larry Gould was the first non-clergy president”

The chaplain’s office has grown ever since its inception to welcome students of all faiths, and now includes two associate chaplains, and nine chaplain’s associates.

Fure-Slocum expressed excitement for the future of Skinner Memorial Chapel. “We are not just celebrating where we have already been, but we are also looking forward to where the future might lead us,” she said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *