CLARA GALEAZZI/THE HOYA Dahlgren Chapel’s foundational damage will require extensive repairs later this year.
Dahlgren Chapel’s foundational damage will require extensive repairs later this year.

Dahlgren Chapel, the university’s central location for Catholic worship, will undergo major renovations later this year to remedy water damage to its foundation.

Fr. Philip Boroughs, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry, said the university is still working with engineers and architects to determine a specific timeline for the repairs, which will take about 15 months of work and entail the removal and repair of its stained-glass windows along with other structural work.

Cracks were first noticed around the chapel’s rose window in the fall of 2007 after falling plaster led the university to temporarily close the chapel. The window was then removed in the fall of 2009 to protect the glass after the walls around the window were found to be bowed. The university then began investigating the structural integrity of the chapel.

“We’ve been monitoring this for a couple of years,” Boroughs said.

He added that the university plans to release a final timeline for the repairs in the next few weeks.

“Now is the time when we really need to do something about it,” he said.

Boroughs said the chapel, which first opened in 1893, will remain open during the majority of the work but will have to close for short periods to allow for some of the interior work to take place. Construction will also impact the Dahlgren courtyard area.

“We are going to try and do as much as possible as discretely as possible as discreetly as possible,” Boroughs said.

While Boroughs said that cost estimates for the job are not yet available, the university is already working with potential donors to fund the restorations.

“Because of the generosity of donors, we have the opportunity to preserve and protect this beautiful icon,” he said.

Kevin Kuehl (SFS ’11), who has been attending Mass at Dahlgren Chapel since his freshman year, said he thinks the chapel is in dire need of renovations. During his first week attending Mass, plaster fell from a wall, causing the temporary closure.

He added that while Dahlgren is the most focal place of worship on campus, there are many other places to go for Mass, such as Copley Crypt or nearby Holy Trinity Church.

“It’s just going to need to be a sacrifice that needs to be made,” Kuehl said.

Francis Leung (SFS ’13), president of the Catholic Student Association, said that while Dahlgren Chapel is the center of Catholic student life at Georgetown, he is not concerned about the construction’s impact on campus spiritual life.

“As long as the community is there, and that community spirit is strong, it doesn’t really matter,” Leung said.

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