By: Sabrina Bryant
William Penn’s famous landmark Spencer Chapel is getting a new look.
Spencer Chapel, which was completed in 1923, has served many purposes over the years however it has been out of use since the early 2000’s. A general state of disrepair and the building of the Daily Auditorium are the main factors contributing to its close.
The renovation has been a long time coming says President John Ottosson. The funds have been gradually raised and phase one of the project is now underway. The first step to restoring Spencer Chapel is the exterior- new brick work and windows are currently being installed. Additionally, the chapel will be rid of dangerous materials such as mold, lead and asbestos so that it is safe for students and faculty.
Spencer Chapel has been on campus since the 1920’s and has quite a bit of history to go along with it. In the past its top floor has been used as a chapel, auditorium, concert hall and much more. The bottom floor of Spencer has traditionally been more modern. It once housed a skating rink, a two-lane bowling alley, the campus bookstore and a small café for students.
Spencer Chapel has been on the renovation list for a long time, according to President Ottosson. However, William Penn decided to prioritize and construct some other important Penn buildings first.
“We wanted to build the PAC, the MTC, the new dorms. Some of those things that would enhance the student experience” says President Ottosson.
The seats in Spencer Chapel- originally installed in 1921- will also eventually be replaced and around 400 people will be able to comfortably sit. President Ottosson says that the renovations are important for two reasons:
“Spencer Chapel has a lot of history that it would be great to bring back. But we also want to return it to the point where we can use it for concerts, convocations and other events”.
The roof of the building was actually redone 10-15 years ago while the chapel was still in operation, so that is one less thing that will need to be fixed in order to see Spencer returned to its former glory.
The building will also mix the old with the new. The top floor of Spencer will be returned to its historical use and be the home of musicals, convocations, chapel and other events with large attendance. Sadly, students will not have the opportunity to bowl with friends or go skating on campus- as the bottom floor will not be renovated to its historical purpose.
President Ottosson says, “The bottom floor will probably have classrooms, offices, we haven’t totally determined what that will look like yet”.
The project also has yet to have a set finish date. President Ottosson says that there is no way to know when Spencer Chapel will be finished because the funds have yet to be raised.
Another interesting Penn connection comes in the form of the business laying the new brick work- MG Masonry. The company is owned by William Penn alumni Malloree Grove.
Highly anticipated work has begun on Spencer Chapel. The renovations will take time but someday soon, students will be able to sit in the historical building and leave a bit of history of their own.