Auburn in Lee County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
Auburn University Chapel
The University Chapel is the oldest public building in the city of Auburn. Built as a Presbyterian Church, the first service was held in the original Greek Revival-style building on September 13, 1851. Edwin Reese, spiritual leader of the tiny congregation, had the bricks made by slaves on his plantation. The founder of the town, Judge John J. Harper, gave the land. The first minister was the Rev. Albert Shotwell. The small church has seen several renovations over the years, and dramatically changed in appearance from Greek Revival to Gothic style. Originally the church had two entrances, one for men and one for women. The church building has served many purposes, and played an integral part in the town’s history. In the 19th Century it was used as a Confederate hospital, a meeting place for the first Episcopal congregation, and in 1887 when the main building burned at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, the college used the building for a temporary classroom. By 1917, the Presbyterian congregation with over 100 members, moved to their new building on the corner of Gay and Thach. It was placed on the National Register of Historic
In 1921, the Alabama Polytechnic Institute acquired the building which had been renovated in a Gothic style around 1900. Until 1926 it served a variety of social functions housing the U. S. O. and later the Y.M.C.A.-Y.W.C.A., giving it the long time sobriquet the “Y” Hut. On July 27, 1926, the Auburn Players made their debut performance and until 1973 it was the University Theatre. In 1976, after extensive renovation designed by Professor Nicholas Davis, the old church re-opened as the University Chapel, an interdenominational, multipurpose building. During renovation, the hand-made trusses, girders and joists, slotted and pegged together, were discovered. The new ceiling was built above this wooden network to highlight this original feature. The new entrance doors are replicas of the originals, as is the steeple. The beautiful old bricks were cleaned, repaired, and a new layer of mortar put into the joints. Landscaped walkways, and curving brick walls were all added. Funds for the project were given by the E. L. Spencer, Jr. family. It stands today as a blend of the old and new, a reminder of Auburn’s religious, academic, and social history.
Erected 1994 by Historic Chattahoochee Commission and Auburn Heritage Association
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & Religion • Education • War, US Civil. A significant historical date for this entry is May 22, 1934.
Location. 32° 36.268′ N, 85° 28.895′ W. Marker is in Auburn, Alabama, in Lee County. Marker is on South College Street north of East Thach Avenue, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 143 East Thach Avenue, Auburn AL 36830, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Lathe (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Auburn WWI Memorial (about 400 feet away); Desegregation at Auburn (about 500 feet away); Auburn - Alabama (about 700 feet away); Auburn 1865~Present / The "Loveliest Village" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Toomers Corner And The Bank Of Auburn (approx. 0.2 miles away); Auburn United Methodist Church Founder's Chapel (approx. 0.2 miles away); City Hall (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Auburn.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on January 21, 2011, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama. This page has been viewed 1,522 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 21, 2011, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.