Brown Chapel, Muskingum University
Built in the early 1900s, this chapel is considered one of the oldest building that still stands on campus today. Built under the President, John Knox Montgomery, Brown Chapel has been known to hold offices, classrooms, and performances as well as being served as a chapel. With the Gothic like structure, this chapel was built to help serve the religious purpose of Muskingum as well as the community of New Concord. Brown Chapel has had renovations over the years to make sure that the chapel will be here for the future students of Muskingum to come.
Backstory and Context
In 1912, the board of Trustees and then president, John Knox Montgomery, of the University decided that this would be a great time to come up with a grant to support several of the buildings on campus. there were few campus buildings at Muskingum when President John Knox Montgomery came to office in 1904. Brown Chapel was the first building to be constructed under President John Knox Montgomery. John Knox did not wait very long into his reign to make sure that Muskingum would grow into a large enough institution for an increase of students to come. Throughout the 75th anniversary of the University, the funds for Brown Chapel began and the entire cost to build the chapel came to 52,000 dollars. With the total cost of the woodwork, ironwork, and added brick to the chapel, these beautiful add-ons would use up most of the budget and come to a total 26,627. The architectural look of the chapel is described to be of a Gothic style which is compared to the cathedral design found in England. With some design similar to Westminster Abbey, the chapel is a beautiful sight to see both on inside and out. Fast forward to 1963, the University came to the decision to add double doors where the large stain glass window, designed in the Tutor style, once took place. These new doors now take role as the main entrance of the chapel and allows students to enter from the rear where they will be coming from class.
Designed by the architect Frank Packard, who was an Ohioan architect that assisted in the building of United States President, Warren Harding’s home as well as many of the buildings on The Ohio State University campus, and contracted by William C. Handshy and Son, the chapel measures out to be 148 feet by 53 feet. Large enough for the beginning of a new transformation that Muskingum was going through at the time, the chapel was built to last the generations that were to come. Under the church is a full basement that had a kitchen and enough room to host banquets. Today the basement of the church still has a small kitchen, however, a dining area and a smaller chapel also take place in the basement. Still relevant today, the chapel was more than just a place to worship here at Muskingum; Brown Chapel held school programs, music programs, lectures, and other guest entertainment.
Brown Chapel was named after J.M. Brown who was a philanthropist from Wheeling. Before the dedication in May 1921 to J.M. Brown, the chapel was originally named the Muskingum Auditorium. This dedication was to memorializing Brown’s term as a Trustee at Muskingum. Brown was very dedicated to the Christian education that Muskingum had to offer. Not only was J.M. Brown a Trustee, but he was a great benefactor that helped support the construction of Johnson Hall and provided approximately 100,000 dollars in gifts to the University.
50 years later, renovations were completed to the chapel. In the 1963 Chapel Renovation Committee meeting, the main topic of the discussion were the items that needed the most updating. Some of the items that were discussed were new pews or chairs, the Orchestra, landscaping, a sidewalk to the chapel from Montgomery Hall, and some new glass to replace in the windows around the chapel. A year later in 1964, the renovations were completed and the total cost came to 225,000 dollars. The renovations completed included a new Reuters Organ, new seating, and sound furniture as well as some for the chancel. In 1977, President John Anthony Brown and Pastor Dr. Carroll Wood sent in a nomination form to the National Register of Historical Places Inventory to have Brown Chapel, as well as many other buildings on campus, to be selected as a Historic building. This nomination was accepted, and the Brown Chapel did become a historical building. On October 1990, the Chapel carillon were dedicated to then President, Samuel Speck.
Today the chapel is a safe place where student, staff, and the community can come to celebrate. This could be a wedding, an anniversary, Holiday, or just to celebrate Gods presence. Even New Concords local hero John Glenn proposed to his wife, Annie Castor in the chapel. Before John Glenn went off to fight in World War II, he decided to ask Annie to marry him after her piano recital. In 2016, John Glenn passed away at the age of 95. A few days before his passing, many people gathered at Brown Chapel to honor the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, a war that John left Muskingum to serve his county in, and to celebrate John and Annie Glenn for their contributions to the New Concord area and John’s service. Muskingum University still holds chapel every Thursday during common hour (11am-12:30pm) welcoming students, staff and the community to join.
Fisk, William L. A History of Muskingum College. New Concord, OH. Muskingum University, 1978.
Schultz, Shelly. John and Annie Glenn - A True Love Story. USA TODAY. December 08, 2016. Accessed December 06, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/12/08/john-and-annie-glenn-true-partnership/95169286/.
Carlson, Wayne. Frank L. Packard. GRANDVIEW HEIGHTS/MARBLE CLIFF HISTORICAL SOCIETY. . Accessed December 06, 2018. http://www.ghmchs.org/PackardFiles/packard.html.