Sage Chapel

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Sage Chapel

Sage Chapel is the non-denominational chapel on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York State and serves as the final resting place many Cornell luminaries, including the university's founders, Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, and their wives. The building was a gift to the university of Henry William Sage and his wife.[1]:46 The chapel is located on Ho Plaza, across from Willard Straight Hall and next to John M. Olin Library, John McGraw Tower, and Barnes Hall.

Design[edit]

Exterior[edit]

Part of the northern face of Sage Chapel during springtime

Sage Chapel was designed by the Reverend Charles Babcock,[2] Professor of Architecture at Cornell, with stonework by local stone-carver Robert Richardson.[3]

The design has been significantly altered over the years.[4] The original design featured a 75-foot tower with spire and belfry.[4] An apse was added in 1898 for the bodies of Henry Williams Sage and his wife.[4] The mosaic decoration of the apse was created by J&R Lamb Studios of New York; preliminary designs for this work can be found in the Lamb Studios Archive in the Library of Congress.[5][6][7] A north transept was addeed in 1903.[4] In 1940-41, a west wing expansion and renovation added more space for a new choir loft and the current pipe organ[4], a 3-manual Aeolian-Skinner with 69 stops and an estimated 3858 speaking pipes.[8] The organ incorporates several ranks of pipes from previous instruments, including two of the previous organs built in the chapel.[9] The building includes Tiffany glass windows[2] and a stained glass memorial to three civil rights workers (one of whom was a Cornell alumnus, Michael Schwerner), murdered during Freedom Summer.[8]

Interior[edit]

The altar and apse of Sage Chapel

The interior building has a rich and detailed history with many of the artistic renderings representing numerous Christian and educational themes. The olive vine theme on the floor and walls is a symbol of fertility. The double crosses in the ceiling have a blue background in which are set gilded sunbursts and stars, while in the centers are found the Greek letters, XP, which began the word Christos, and the Alpha and Omega. The colours also are symbolic; white is for purity, innocence, and faith. Black and white together, purity of life, and humiliation. Red is for fire, heat, and the creative power. Red and black together, purgatory and the realm of Satan. Green is for hope, of victory and immortality. Grey is for mourning and innocence accused. Blue for the firmament, truth, and constancy. Gold is the sun and goodness of God. The anchor represents hope and patience. The lamp is piety and wisdom. The lamb and pennant, represents the Redeemer. The cross is for redemption. The interwoven triangles, represents the Trinity. The Lion is for the Tribe of Judah. The open book with a hand pointing to the Beatitudes, is a symbol of the Gospels. The sword and palm is for martyrdom and victory. The chalice is for faith. The flaming heart is of fervent piety and love. The standard, the wreath, and the crown represent victory over evil. The sun, stars, and crescent moon, are the luminous nebula which emanates from and surrounds the Divine Essence. The burning bush is for the fervor of the martyrs. I.H.S. originally were the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek, but which in Renaissance time were said to stand for Jesus Hominum Salvator, "Jesus, Saviour of men."

Many of the decorative carvings of Sage Chapel were executed by one Robert Richardson, a stone-carver who had emigrated to Ithaca from England.[10] Of Richardson's work in Sage Chapel, Andrew Dickson White wrote:

Best of all was [Richardson's] work in the chapel. The tracery of the windows, the capitals of the columns, and the corbels supporting the beams of the roof were masterpieces; and, in my opinion, no investment of equal amount has proved to be of more value to us ... than these examples of a conscientious devotion of genius and talent which he thus gave us. ... The stone vaulting, the tracery, and other decorative work ... carried out as a labor of love by Richardson, were all that I could desire.[3]

— Andrew Dickson White, Autobiography Volume 1 (1906)

History[edit]

Sage Chapel in 1874; note the tower and spire.

Cornell University was founded as a non-sectarian institution; this drew criticism of "godlessness" from some quarters.[4] In response, Henry W. Sage, sometimes called the "second founder of the University" donated funds for the establishment of a chapel.[4] Sage stipulated two conditions for the gift: first, that the chapel "would never be delivered over to one sect," and second that "students should be attracted but not coerced into it."[4] Henry Sage's son Dean Sage later endowed the position of chaplain.[4]

Opening services were held on June 13, 1875 with Reverend Phillips Brooks of Boston's Trinity Church presiding.[1]:46[11]

Sage Chapel originally featured a 75-foot tower with spire and belfry.[4] In 1875, the tower held one of two electric arc lamps installed on campus by professor of physics William Arnold Anthony.[4] It was said to be the "first locality in America, if not the world, to have a permanent installation of electric arc lamps."[1]:53 The lamps were "visible for many miles around, and it excited the wonder of the inhabitants."[12][1]:53

Sage Chapel has hosted many speakers, including Lyman Beecher, John R. Mott (Cornell class of 1888), Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Stephen Wise, Martin Luther King, Sr., Martin Luther King, Jr., Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Elie Wiesel, Abraham Heschel, Hans Küng, Harold Kushner, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, Carl Sagan, Jane Goodall, Arianna Huffington, and Peter Gomes.[8] Other speakers have included Lyman Abbott, Daniel Berrigan, and John Cleese.[4]

Father Robert S. Smith (1932–2010), Catholic priest, author, and educator, preached regularly at Sage Chapel from 2002 to 2010.

Sage Chapel is a popular choice for couples getting married at Cornell.

Sage Chapel also serves as the home of the Cornell University Glee Club and Cornell University Chorus.

Interments[edit]

The bodies or ashes of numerous Cornell notables and their families are interred in the crypt inside Sage Chapel. Among them include:

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Guide to the Campus Cornell University. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University. 1920. pp. 46–53. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b Rambusch, Viggo Bech (1999). "Re-Lighting a Historic Church Interior: Challenges at Cornell University's Sage Chapel". APT Bulletin. Association for Preservation Technology International. 30 (2/3): 56–9. doi:10.2307/1504641. ISSN 0848-8525. JSTOR 1504641 – via JSTOR.
  3. ^ a b White, Andrew Dickson (1906). Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White. Volume I. New York: Century. pp. 408–409. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Ostman, Ronald (2003). Cornell then & now : historic and contemporary views of Cornell University. Ithaca, New York: McBooks Press. pp. 38–41. ISBN 1-59013-045-6.
  5. ^ Studios, J. & R. Lamb (1900). "[Design drawing for mural with Sage Chapel, Young Manhood, Education, The Sciences (Astronomy, center), Philosophy, The Arts (Literature, Architecture, Music), and Young Womanhood for Sage Chapel, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York]". www.loc.gov. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  6. ^ Studios, J. & R. Lamb (1900). "[Design drawing for Cornell University Sage Chapel in Ithaca, New York. Upper, intra-ribbing: angels with cross. Lower, frieze: enthroned man, colorfully robed female figures with emblematic objects]". www.loc.gov. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  7. ^ Studios, J. & R. Lamb (1900). "[Design drawing for mosaic processional of the arts, sciences, etc., for Cornell University's Sage Chapel in Ithaca, New York]". www.loc.gov. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "CURW - Sage Hall History". Curw.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  9. ^ "Aeolean-Skinner Organ". Cornell University Dept. of Music. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
  10. ^ Guide to the Campus: Cornell University. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University. 1920. p. 84-85. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  11. ^ "CURW, Sage Chapel host events to celebrate dual anniversaries". Cornell Chronicle. 2005-04-07. Archived from the original on 9 February 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  12. ^ Waterman, Thomas Hewett (1905). Cornell University, a history: Volume 2. The University publishing society. p. 153. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b "History: Finding Cornell's Forefathers in Sage Chapel Crypt". Cornell Daily Sun. 6 September 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2018.

External links[edit]

Media related to Sage Chapel (Cornell University) at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 42°26′50″N 76°29′04″W / 42.447211°N 76.484452°W / 42.447211; -76.484452