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The Gideon F. Egner Memorial Chapel

The Gideon F. Egner Chapel, located in the heart of the Muhlenberg College campus, is regarded by architectural historians as one of the finest examples of the "collegiate gothic" style in America.

For over 77 years the Egner Chapel has been a solemn place of inspiration, awe, and contemplation. It also celebrates the rich secular and ecumenical tradition of intellectual life. Through thoughtful symbolism and heraldry, the carved stone and wood, the glowing glass, and the soaring space combine to create an architectural masterpiece that clearly stands as a work of art. Among the many distinguished features of of the Chapel are:

  • Carved dark oak woodwork adorns the choir, chancel, reredos, and organ cases.
  • The walls are constructed of plymouth granite trimmed on the exterior with Indiana limestone and on the interior with pre-cast stone.
  • The exterior length of Chapel is 194 feet.
  • Interior dimensions of the soaring nave are 150 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 60 feet tall.
  • The nave is divided lengthwise into 10 bays of 15 feet each.
  • The center aisle is 83 feet long.
  • There are 28 pews on each side, and the chapel seats approximately 430.
  • The roof is covered with slate and copper.
  • Frank Rushmore Watson of Philadelphia was the architect for the chapel.
  • The stunning stained glass windows were designed by D'Ascenzo Studios of Philadelphia.

Construction on the chapel began on October 12 just two weeks prior to the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The President of the Board of Trustees directed the laying of the cornerstone, in which were placed a number of items, including a Holy Bible, Common Service Books of the Lutheran Church, a catalog of Muhlenberg College, a copy of The Muhlenberg Weekly, names of the architects and contractors, a Lincoln one-cent piece, and an Edison two-cent stamp. The chapel was dedicated on January 1, 1931 in a solemn ceremony that included architect Frank Watson, the President of the Board of Trustees, the President of the College, and a minister who prayed "Peace be to the House."

The Chapel plays a major role in campus life. In addition to Mass and weekly worship services, highlighted events such as Opening Convocation and the Candlelight Carols are favorites among the community. Other vocal performances and choir concerts take place in the Chapel as well.



 
 

About Gideon F. Egner

"Gideon F. Egner was a dedicated family man, diligent business partner, and courageous hero who served his country in the Civil War. Egner enlisted in the 195th Pa. Volunteer Regiment on July 5, 1864. He served in the calvary unit and became a station agent for the P & R Railroad at Emmaus from 1866 to 1869. He was also a religious man. Upon his retirement he served as elder at Solomon's Lutheran congregation in Macungie, and at St. John's Lutheran Church in Allentown. The Egners bore a daughter, Anne, who helped make a dream at Muhlenberg College come true.

Mrs. Annie Egner Hartzell specifically wanted the College to construct a granite Chapel, as stated in her will. She left a gift of $125,000 to help fund the Chapel, but the entire cost of the building was approximately $367,000. The remaining expenses for the Chapel's completion and furnishings were provided by contributions made from students, alumni, and others associated with the college. Some of their names have been engraved into stone and etched on plaques throughout the entire building."3


 
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