HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
Stone Chapel, Drury College (view 1 of 5)
Drury University was founded in 1873 by a group of missionary Congregational pastors. Its original name was Springfield College. The name was changed to Drury College on December 10, 1874, to honor Samuel F. Drury, a large contributor to the college. At first the Congregational Church in Springfield and the Opera House were used for classes, but soon Nathan J. Morrison, Drury's first president, conceived the idea of building a chapel that would meet the wider needs of both Drury College and the community. Stone Chapel stands at the northeast corner of Benton Avenue and Central Street. It is well that the photograph on the postcard was taken when the trees were not in full bloom because the leaves make it difficult to see the outlines of the chapel. It is postmarked 1911.
Early in 1876 Frederick Marquand of New York City gave $5,000 for the erection of the chapel. The chapel was designed to be made of brick, but in 1881 the plans were changed. Mrs. Valerie Stone agreed to donate $50,000 to the college, with $20,000 earmarked for the chapel building. It was suggested that the chapel could be made of quarried limestone and called Stone Chapel, both reflecting the material used in building it and the last name of the main donor. This not only made the chapel more beautiful and durable, but as Springfield had no buildings constructed of stone at that time, Stone Chapel became the first. It is still standing, making it the oldest stone building in Springfield.
On November 16, 1880, the cornerstone of Stone Chapel was laid. Work continued until the spring of 1882 when the money ran out. Still needing $4,400 to complete the chapel, work was stopped. On December 12, 1882, a fire started from an improperly installed furnace. Since the city water works were not yet functioning the building was gutted by the fire. The college was advised to rebuild the chapel on the same spot using the salvageable stone walls. By June of 1892 the chapel was finished and paid for. Thus it took twelve years, from 1880 until 1892, to get the Stone Chapel built.
In the early 1950s the chapel's slate roof was replaced and a steel spire replaced the original timber spire. A new chancel was built in 1955. Much of the chapel's interior woodwork was replaced in the early 1950s. The chapel originally could seat 1,000 to 1,500, but after the remodeling could only seat 800.
The ivy-covered Victorian-Gothic structure is one of the most popular places in Springfield to get married. It was placed in the Springfield Historic Sites Record on October 1, 1973, and since 1982 has been on the National Register of Historic Places.