Chapel Renovations Reach Last Stage with Organ
Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 03:01
The installation of a new Dahlgren Chapel organ began last week, marking the beginning of the final phase of interior. After installation, the organ will take at least two weeks to be properly tuned.
The interior renovations, which began in July 2013, represent the third and last phase of the chapel overhaul.
Since its consecration in 1893, Dahlgren Chapel has been renovated four times, with the most recent major repairs done in 1989.
“Dahlgren Chapel is the spiritual heart of campus, so we have been taking great care in the renovations,” Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., said.
The first two phases of the ongoing renovations focused on structural work and substructure repairs. The repairs were mostly below-grade and addressed water penetration issues and replacement of damaged wooden substructure with metal parts.
“During those phases, we basically had the chapel up on stilts,” Amy Sanderson, senior architect in the division of design and construction, said.
In order to confront lighting issues, architects restored the stained glass windows and renovated the chapel’s lighting system.
“In the past, the lighting was a big issue in the chapel because it was too dark to easily facilitate video production in the chapel. We want to be able to stream events from the chapel online,” Sanderson said.
The new organ will be located behind the altar, and installation of the organ’s casing will continue through Jan. 31. After installation, the organ will require two weeks of tuning, which will be finished by Feb. 14.
“This involves tuning each individual pipe for this specific space,” Director of Liturgy and Music Jim Wickman said.
After the organ is installed and tuned, only a few minor steps remain before the renovations are done.
Final renovations on Dahlgren will rehabilitate the dormer windows and place historical crosses, which are currently located in Healy Hall, along the walls of the chapel.
Once the renovations are complete, a dedicated mass will be held on April 12.
“A large amount of time, energy and philanthropy went into making these renovations happen, and we’re very happy with how it has come together. With the completion of these renovations, Dahlgren will be secured as a new spiritual home for the Georgetown community for the next 125 years,” Wickman said.
The Dahlgren renovations mark the university’s effort to continue improving spiritual places on campus. Copley Crypt and St. William’s Chapel are other spiritual sites that will undergo repairs. Additionally, fundraising for an interfaith prayer center, which will include Muslim, Jewish and Hindu prayer space, is a focus of the university’s efforts.
“As the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, with the largest campus ministry in the country, we are dedicated to maintaining our sacred spaces as environments for praying together and building community,” Fr. O’Brien said.