The collection includes photographs taken for the creation of the book Duke Chapel Illuminated as well as some materials related to the production of the book. The majority of the photographs are of the stained glass windows, statues, and carvings in, and views of the chapel; also included are photographs of events in and around the chapel, as well as images from the Duke University Archives of people, events, and scenes from the history of the Chapel. A small amount of material related to the layout and production of the book Duke Chapel Illuminated is also included.
The book The Architecture of Duke University by William Blackburn, 1939, was used to number and identify the stained glass windows, as well as provide information on the location of statues and carvings. A digital copy of this book is available via HathiTrust.
The Duke Chapel is the central focus of Duke University's West Campus, a Gothic-style church rising 210 feet high and completed in 1935. It is constructed with what is commonly called Duke stone, a bluestone from a quarry in Hillsborough, N.C., which is used across West Campus. The Chapel contains 77 stained glass windows and hundreds of carvings and sculptures depicting scenes from the Bible.
In 1924 James B. Duke created the Duke Endowment, funding the development of Trinity College, which renamed itself Duke University. James B. Duke was closely involved with the planning of the new campus for the university, and declared "I want the central building to be a church, a great towering church which will dominate all of the surrounding buildings." The firm of Horace Trumbauer of Philadelphia, P.A., was hired to design the new campus, and the chief designer of the Trumbauer firm was Julian Abele, the first African American graduate of the architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Construction on the Chapel began in 1930, with the cornerstone laid on October 22; the majority of the initial construction on West Campus had been completed already. Construction took more than two years, although the Chapel was not completely finished and formally dedicated until 1935; the building was complete enough to be used for Commencement in 1932. Designed in an English Gothic style, the building combines modern materials such as steel trusses with traditional architectural methods such as flying buttresses.
The stained glass windows were created between 1931 and 1933, and were designed and made by G. Owen Bonawit. A panel in Window 2, the Noah window, also credits designer S. Charles Jaekle and craftsman Hugh Doherty. Bonawit apparently selected the subjects depicted in the windows.
Stone carving was done by the John Donnelly Company; woodwork by Irving and Casson-A.H. Davenport, Inc.; ironwork by William H. Jackson Company; carving of the sarcophagi in the Memorial Chapel tombs by Charles Keck; and the carillon was cast by the Taylor Bell Foundry of England. It is unknown exactly who chose the subjects of the exterior and interior carvings. John Donnelly was located in New York, and is likely the one who chose the subjects of the exterior carvings, consulting with a professor from Vanderbilt University. The statues include what appear to be several mistakes: the statue meant to depict Thomas Coke, an 18th century Methodist bishop, may actually depict Thomas Coke, a 17th century English judge; the statue of Robert E. Lee originally had a belt buckle that read U.S. despite Lee being famous as a Confederate general; and other unusual choices.
The original main organ was created by the Aeolian Company, and in 1976 the Chapel received a new organ made by Dirk Flentrop, which was officially named the Benjamin N. Duke Memorial Organ but is commonly referred to as "the Flentrop." A smaller organ is located in the Memorial Chapel.
The Chapel also includes a Memorial Chapel and crypt. Entombed in the Memorial Chapel are James Buchanan Duke, Washington Duke, and Benjamin N. Duke, all of whom were removed from Maplewood Cemetery in 1935. Within the crypt can be found Duke President William P. Few, Duke President and N.C. politician Terry Sanford, and several other figures from Duke's history.
Beginning in 1994, some of the stained glass windows underwent restoration by artisan Dieter Goldkuhle. From 2015 to 2016, the ceiling and roof of the Chapel were completely restored.
In August 2017, after the white supremacist rally and counter-protests in Charlottesville, Va., of August 8, and subsequent protests in the Durham and Chapel Hill areas that included the toppling of a Confederate statue in front of Durham City Hall, the statue of Robert E. Lee was vandalized. Duke President Vincent Price ordered the removal of the statue of Lee from the entrance to the Chapel to an unknown location. In 2018, President Price announced that no new statue would be added, and the spot remains empty.
The book Duke Chapel Illuminated was published in 2001. Photographs of the stained glass windows and other Chapel images were done by Les Todd and Chris Heldreth of Duke Photography. The text was written by Minnie Glymph and the design by Lacy Chylack, both of the Duke University Medical Center.
Sources: Duke Chapel Illuminated, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The Architecture of Duke University, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
"Robert E. Lee statue is removed from Duke Chapel," 2017 August 19, The Chronicle, https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2017/08/robert-e-lee-statue-removed-from-campus, viewed 2018 October 04.