Christ Chapel was built in 1866 as St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and became the first Protestant church in Idaho, Montana, and Utah. Over time, it was relocated to the North End and then was moved to its current location on Boise State University campus in 1964. In 1973, Christ Chapel was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the church is still owned and operated by the Christ Chapel Historical Society where it is used for nondenominational weddings and ceremonial events.
Backstory and Context
This chapel, in its humble Gothic
Revival style, inherited an organ in 1869 as well as an alter and multiple pews
made with wood from Cape Horn. The present organ is the Chapel’s 3rd
but the alter, pews, and stained glass windows are original. The church’s bell
still hangs in the tower and can be heard from miles around.
the 1900’s, when St. Michael’s Cathedral was built, the church was moved to 15th
& Ridenbaugh with an additional wing to the schoolhouse. After some time,
church goers moved to the cathedral for their activities instead and the
building was almost sold, as it no longer had much use for them. With the
collaborative help of St. Michael’s Cathedral, The Sons and Daughters of Idaho
Pioneers, and Boise Junior College, the chapel moved onto Boise’s college campus
in 1964. With that, the Christ Chapel Inc. (known later as the Christ Chapel
Historical Society) which became dedicated to preserving Christ Chapel’s
historic structure. Mr. Jim Brown, Idaho Statesman’s Publisher at that time, graciously
covered the cost of moving and restoring the Chapel. Since then, this little
building has not moved from its home and has been carefully restored in ways
that held true to its original style. For example, the turrets at the top of
the building were restored by referencing old photos and scuff marks on the
back of the pews were kept since they were made by the young and restless
worshippers many years ago.
Dr. Eugene Chaffee was known to be
fond of the Chapel, often calling it “the grandparent of Boise College” due to
its similar ties to St. Margaret’s School. Chaffee was at the helm of Christ
Chapel Historical Society as a board member and advocate for historical preservation.
Together, him and his wife were the caretakers of Christ Chapel for as long as
they were physically able to, opening it up for special events and for visitor
tours on Sundays.
1973, Christ Chapel was added to the National Register of Historic Places and an
Idaho marker was placed in front of the church. During the placement of the
marker, Florence Margaret Lovejoy, the daughter and grand-daughter of two of
Christ Chapel’s original carpenters, read her poem about Christ Chapel and
later wrote short stories and memoirs of her father and grand-father spending
time at the Chapel.
Christ Chapel is used for nondenominational weddings and is still owned and operated
by the Christ Chapel Historical Society.
Bennett, Janessa. Christ Chapel. Idaho Architecture Project, 2009. Accessed 2017. http://idahoarchitectureproject.org/s/1429/Christ-Chapel-.
Chaffee, Eugene. Letter to Dwane R. Kern concerning info on Christ Chapel’s ownership. Feb. 1968, University Archives, MSS 30, Box 11, Folder 33, Boise State University Special Collections and Archives.
Jenkins, Mary. "Christ Chapel: A Look Back." Idaho Statesman, October 6, 1974. University Archives, MSS 83, Box 1, Folder 3, Boise State University Special Collections and Archives.
Lovejoy, Florence W. Christ Chapel (poem), 1963. University Archives, Building Files: Christ Chapel 1010C, Boise State University Special Collections and Archives.
Thomson, Helen L. Letter to Mr. Alan Virta, discussing historical info on Christ Chapel. April 20th, 1996. University Archives, Building Files: Christ Chapel 1010C, Boise State University Special Collections and Archives.
Unknown Author, Idaho Statesman, 1866, University Archives, Buildings Files: Christ Chapel 1010C, Boise State University Special Collections and Archives.