The Class of 1944 Chapel
The Class of 1944 Chapel is the centerpiece of Episcopal’s new campus in Newtown Square. Situated at the highest point of the Campus Green, the Chapel is also home to many historic items taken from Christ Chapel in Merion, including the needlepoint kneelers, altar cross, war memorial wood carvings, small stained glass windows, and organ pipes. Designed by alumnus and Pritzker Prize winner Robert Venturi ‘44, the Class of 1944 Chapel is a magnificent space.
Venturi describes his design in this way: “A chapel for the Episcopal Academy was the subject for my master’s thesis in 1950.... The chapel is an iconic element as perceived immediately within the campus complex by pedestrians and as perceived from a distance from moving cars along Route 252 and from approaches to the center of the complex within the campus by car. The chapel is also a harmonious element within its immediate architectural and natural context, that of the new campus complex and its landscape, via characteristics of its design that are analogous and contrasting.”
The Chapel Organ
The organ for the new Episcopal Academy Class of 1944 Chapel has required over 4 years of planning and construction. It was completed by R. J. Brunner & Co. of Silver Spring, Pennsylvania for the opening of the new campus in the fall of 2008. The firm was first contacted in November, 2004 regarding a proposal to move and expand the organ in the chapel of the Merion campus. The existing organ was built in 1963 by the M. P. Moller Co. of Hagerstown, Maryland as the firm’s opus 9809, a 2-manual and Pedal instrument of 17 ranks. It featured an exposed Great principal chorus and wood Pedal Subbass pipes displayed on an upper level, with the Swell and enclosed portion of the Great behind wood grillwork. The small size of the instrument led to the addition of several ranks of pipes and other changes, in an effort to increase the capabilities of the organ. In spite of these improvements, it was obvious that the organ would not be of sufficient size to fill the space of the much larger new chapel being built.
More information about the builder of the organ, can be found at brunnerorgans.com