The Berry College Chapel is one of four chapels on Berry College's campus. It is located on a small hill west of the Memorial Library and placed in front of Centennial Hall on the main campus. Like the other chapels at Berry, it is used for worship services, drama and musical programs, weddings, lectures and other events held by the school. The chapel is open to the public, but reservations are appointed to Berry students and alumni only.


Originally named Mount Berry Chapel, the building was created due to a generous donation from Curtis James. This $50,000 donation was left for construction of the chapel as a gift to the Berry schools. James's name was not exposed until 50 years after her death because the marble tablet in the narthex was left blank as a symbol of the donor's desire to remain nameless ("Berry Trails" 22). The chapel was built in 1915 and dedicated to the Berry foundation on March 5, 1916. Soon afterwards, the chapel became a focal point on Berry campus in many ways. The chaplains led the worship and activities while the students were active in the daily and Sunday services that were arranged. Even during the most struggling events, the chapel continued to stay alive. During World War I, some church members left and went into the Armed Forces. Although many people grieved at this time, supporters comforted each other and still met local needs. In the years of the Depression, the church made loans to students, faculty, and staff. These loans have been repaid a hundred or a thousand fold. In the early 1940s during World War II and Miss Berry's death, the church stood as a pillar of faith and assurance. As short-term presidents came and left in the late 1940's and 1950's, the chapel was the center of steadfastness at the college, and contributed to nearby needs and provide a home to foreign missions ("Mount Berry Church Letter"). "Mount Berry Chapel later became known as the Berry College Chapel to reflect its importance to the college" ("Berry Trails" 22)‍‍‍‍‍.‍‍‍‍‍

photo of church.JPGBuilding the Chapel

The Berry College Chapel was built and modeled after the Church of Christ in Alexandria, Virginia which was thought to resemble St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The 105 foot, one story chapel was designed by architect Harry Carlson of Boston, who also designed the Ford Complex, and built by the students ("Berry Trails" 22). If you look closely, the entire building material is of brick mortar bond and does not change throughout the makeup. It is built partially above the ground. Marble steps lead up to a porch, where the double door entrance is located. The window pattern along the chapel consisted of 20 over 20 with a half round the top. The roof, which is made of slate material, was peaked and a tower sat on top with a verger bell. The bell is engraved with the phrase that reads, "I tell of birth and death, and summon His worshipers to worship" ("Structural ‍‍‍‍‍Site Survey Form"‍‍‍‍‍). The interior design is simple with arched ceilings held up by pillars. The chapel has had many changes and additions. The original chapel seated only 750 people then it expanded around 1927-28 to accommodate 1,100 people ("Berry Trails" 22). The tower was also rebuilt in 1945-46.

During the 1948 renovation, steel supports were installed to replace the wooden timbers and other deteriorating woodwork inside. While attending to the renovation, workers discovered that bees had stored honey in one of the columns. Forty-seven gallons were able to be salvaged and were used in the dining halls ("Virtual Tour"). Industrial manager O.C. Skinner called this project the most difficult remodeling ever undertaken at Berry. In 1997, the chapel was renovated by S&W Builders of Rome, Georgia and Berry College physical plant personnel. The interior restoration consisted of refinishing and padding benches, laying carpet, cleaning and clearing the organ pipes, and several other repairs. The finishing product of the renovation was completed in February 1997.


A substantial amount of people contributed in keeping the chapel beautiful as well as fully furnished. Accent items were donated by several people, making the chapel more admirable. ‍‍‍Robert‍‍‍ Alston donated an alter furnishing for the memory of her husband. A crimson dorsal of chiffon velvet was donated by Dr. Cook although it was originally made by Dan Sullivan. The carpet was a gift to Mr. and Mrs. G.L. Westcott of Dalton. However, the most important donations were probably the brass offering plates, silver communion service and the hymnals which were all donations from various students and staff members. The mother of Mrs. Carlisle, better known as Mrs. Laughlin, gave a piano called the Steinway Concert Grand ("Structural Site Survey Form"). The old organ was sold to the First Baptist Church located in Calhoun because the church bought a new one. Someone unknown from Oberlin College in Ohio donated the new, Estey Organ, and when it was later installed in the chapel the cost was approximately $6,850 ("Organ Letter"). While the chapel received new accessories and improvements, it stayed very active with people and soon became too small for the student body and staff. In generosity, James' son contributed enough money for the enlargement of the building. All the donations and gifts provided to the chapel were very beneficial and useful.

The Organ


The Estey pipe organ organ was originally built in 1931 for the Fairfield Chapel at Oberlin College in Oberlin Ohio. In 2006, Robert I. Coulter--Organbuilders began major repairs and refurbishing on the organ. The company that the college had previously contracted to take care of the organ sought sell the college on only major costly repairs before dealing with the minor and easy to fix repairs ("Mount Barry Chapel"). After the Robert I. Coulter company finished the refurbishing however, the organ was fully functional, with all twenty-seven ranks of pipes now working as they should.


The Opus 3001, organ is of the American Classic model, those built during the 1930’s-1960’s. These organs sought replicate the organs of both France and Germany and keep the sounds of the Romantic Era ("The American Classic"). The organ has Great and Swell manuals that one can couple with each other and also with the Pedal. With French, German, and American instruments, the organ enables the musician to play both Classical and Romantic era music ("Fairfield Chapel"). However, because it seeks to encompass many styles, it fails to master even one style. The organ’s versatile registration of instruments allows one to play both modern and classical music ("Mount Barry Chapel").


Although Berry does not use the organ in the Mount Berry Church services, the college does use the organ at many events and ceremonies. The organ was played for convocation in 2012, and the chapel held an organ recital after the refurbishing came to a close. Besides using the organ for events and ceremonies, students competent in music may also use the organ to practice or perform on.

103_1300.JPGMartha Berry and the Chapel

In the early days during Sunday service, Martha Berry always sat in the front row of the balcony following the proceedings. Constantly, Miss Berry was several words or syllables ahead of the rest of the congregation on the Lord's readings or the responsive readings. On October 7, 1941, Miss Berry's 75th birthday, the alumni presented the school with a set of chimes for the chapel. Soon after, Miss Berry was sent to the hospital because she was fairly ill. The graduates arranged with an Atlanta music company to set up an amplifying system, a few blocks away, so Miss Berry could hear the chimes before they were delivered to the schools. At 12 noon, the chimes played Berry songs which surprised and delighted Miss Berry. She began a custom of having the verger ring the bell in the tone of B flat at commencement and weddings. Miss Berry loved weddings and went through a lot of work to make them memorable. The first couple to be married in the chapel was Henry Grady Hamrick, a 1912 graduate, and Ethel Edwards, a 1915 graduate of Berry. They were married at 6 p.m. on June 23, 1917. Miss Berry helped give them a beautiful wedding ("Berry Trails" 22).

When she passed, her funeral was held at the chapel on Sunday, March 1, 1942. Judge Eugene Gunby spoke at the ceremony. After the ceremony, she was buried on the lawn south of the chapel. Before Miss Berry passed, she specifically chose that spot for her grave rather than in front of the chapel because in the traditional march of students into the chapel, the band stood there. She was afraid her grave would cause the students to play more softly than they should ("Berry Trails" 22) . She also chose to have a simple tombstone over her grave with her name and dates and the motto by which she lived, "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister" ("Berry Trails" 22). Since Miss Berry loved dogwoods a dogwood tree was planted at the head of her grave. It was later dedicated as part of the 1946 commencement. In 1966, Atlanta Gas Light Company bestowed its Shining Light Award upon Miss Berry, and an eternal flame was lighted at her grave. Martha's main wish for the chapel was for it to be associated with the happy times in the lives of the students ("Berry Trails" 22).

Works Cited

"About Berry College Chapel." Berry College Virtual Tour. Berry College. Web. 01 October 2012

“The American Classic and Symphonic Organ.” First Parish in Concord. First Parish in Concord, Copyright 2005-2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

Berry College. "Berry Trails: An Historic and Contemporary Guide to Berry College." Third Edition. Mount Berry: Berry College, 2001. Print. Berry College Archives. Memorial Library. Berry College

"Berry College Campus Communication Memo", Campus Buildings and Landmarks-Mount Berry Chapel,19911031-24, Berry College Archives, Memorial Library, Berry College

“Fairchild Chapel, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, Opus 3009.” Estey Opus List. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Mount Barry[sic] Chapel—Berry College.” Robert I. Coulter—Organbuilders. Robert I. Coulter—Organbuilders. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

"Mount Berry Church Letter", Campus Buildings and Landmarks-Mount Berry Chapel, VF980805-6, Berry College Archives, Memorial Library, Berry College

"Organ Letter", Campus Buildings and Landmarks-Mount Berry Chapel, VF20021112-01, Berry College Archives, Memorial Library, Berry College

"Structural and Site Survey Form", Campus Buildings and Landmarks-Mount Berry Chapel, VF980805-5, Berry College Archives, Memorial Library, Berry College.