Battell Chapel

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Battell Chapel
Battell Chapel exterior Yale College c1879.jpg
Battell Chapel in 1879
General information
Architectural style High Victorian Gothic
Address 400 College Street
Town or city New Haven, Connecticut
Country United States
Construction started 1874
Completed 1876
Renovated 1984
Client Yale University
Design and construction
Architect Russell Sturgis, Jr.
Renovating team
Architect J. Cleaveland Cady (1893)
Herbert S. Newman (1984)

Battell Chapel is the largest chapel of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Built in 1874–76 as a Civil War memorial, it was funded primarily with gifts from Joseph Battell and others of his family. Succeeding two previous chapel buildings on Yale's Old Campus, it provided space for daily chapel services, which were mandatory for Yale College students until 1926. Together with Durfee Hall and Farnam Hall, the chapel was part of a program begun in the 1870s to build up the perimeter of Old Campus and separate it from the rest of the city. These three buildings, all by the same architect, were among the first at Yale to be named for donors rather than function, location, or legislative funding.

The chapel was designed by Russell Sturgis, Jr. in High Victorian Gothic style of rough brown sandstone. It was enlarged in 1893 by architect J. Cleaveland Cady, and apse was added in 1947 and dedicated to the undergraduate deacons who died in World War II. The chapel is also the site of other memorials. The interior was restored in 1984 by Herbert S. Newman.

Battell Chapel is one of the locations on the Connecticut Freedom Trail, and an exhibition depicting the role that Yale Divinity School faculty and students played in assisting the Amistad Africans is maintained by Yale in the chapel's vestibule.


The building is a masonry structure of New Jersey brownstone, and decorative elements are made of blue Ohio sandstone.[1] A flat coffered ceiling that covers the auditorium is constructed of wooden beams and painted blue with gold leaf. Interior wood paneling and pews are solid oak.[1]

Iconography and ornament[edit]

Battell Chapel altar

On the chapel's upper pier walls appear the symbols of the Greek Cross and the Shield of the Trinity, emphasizing Yale's conservative Trinitarianist Congregational religious heritage.[1]

The Battell Chapel clock, with chimes consisting of five large bells that rang at each quarter hour, was at one time the clock to which others at Yale was synchronized; however, the chimes have been silent for years.[2] The organ was the gift of Joseph Battell's sister, Irene (Battell) Larned.

The Apse Memorial Windows were designed by the architect Russell Sturgis and installed by Slack, Booth & Co. of Orange, New Jersey in 1876. At the top of the center window appears the name of an early benefactor of Yale University, Elihu Yale, and around his name are the names of the first nine presidents of Yale College. Stained-glass windows flanking the nave commemorate benefactors and professors of Yale, many of whom were theologians. These include George Berkeley, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Silliman, James Luce Kingsley, Chauncey A. Goodrich, Nathaniel W. Taylor, Eleazar Thompson Fitch, Denison Olmstead, Edward C. Herrick, William A. Larned, Anthony D. Stanley, and James Hadley.[1]

Current use[edit]

In the twenty-first century, Battell Chapel is the setting for the Sunday services of the University Church in Yale University, conducted by a Yale Chaplain. The chapel also serves as a concert hall and is the main performance venue for the Greater New Haven Youth Ensembles of Neighborhood Music School: The Greater New Haven Youth Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and Concert Orchestra as well as the Greater New Haven Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Concert Band.


  • Patrick L. Pinnell, The Campus Guide: Yale University, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1999.
  1. ^ a b c d Kingsley, William L. (1879). "The Battell Chapel". In Kingsley, William L. Yale College: A Sketch of Its History. New York: Henry Holt & Co. pp. 287–296. 
  2. ^ Claire Zhang (7 October 2011). "Before our time: Battell Chapel’s clock". The Yale Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°18′32″N 72°55′41″W / 41.309°N 72.928°W / 41.309; -72.928