Art & Architecture

Richardsonian Influence

John Lyman Faxon, the Chapel's architect, was a follower of H.H. Richardson, who is most famous for adapting the monumental style of Romanesque architecture to late nineteenth century America (e.g., Trinity Church in Boston). Faxon and Richardson attempted to leaven the grey and white austerity of traditional New England architecture with the warm tones of native New England granite and sandstone in a new style appropriate to the industrial age. The resulting neo-Romanesque structures convey a feeling of permanence and stability, as well as one of greater warmth and accessibility. Moreover, the stone employed provided the much needed safeguard against fire, which had been a serious problem at the College.

A Balanced Design

The balanced interior of Rollins Chapel, based on a system of four Roman arches, was decorated with a foliate motif. Window space was limited but carefully planned. The skylight and stained glass windows in the transepts, clerestory and apse were placed to affect maximum natural lighting.

The windows were concealed from view for several decades, revealed with much controversy in 2004. Considered works of art in their own right, the windows were designed and executed by craftsmen from Germany, Scotland, and America, including Louis Tiffany. Each window is dedicated to one of the College's previous presidents. With the sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows onto the stone and stained wood, the original interior was probably quite handsome.