Saturday, May 17, 2014

Photo of the Day: St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University

I took this photo of St. Paul’s Chapel while visiting my alma mater, Columbia University, a month ago. I was surprised to learn that this building, adapted from the Northern Renaissance style, was not part of the original 1894 plan for the university designed by architect Charles McKim—that’s how seemlessly it fits into the overall complex. (For the record, it was designed by I. N. Phelps Stokes, who had studied at Columbia.) 

Today, St. Paul is used for all kinds of worship services, concerts, university and private ceremonies, in a distant echo of the university’s origin as an Anglican institution of higher learning, in 1754. Over the years, it has richly merited its 1966 designation as one of the first city buildings listed as an official landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Oddly enough, I seldom spent any time inside this beautiful structure while I was attending the school—not because of any secular leanings, but simply because, as a commuting student, I was seldom on the grounds on weekends. It was only after I graduated over 30 years ago, and I found myself on Sundays in one of the campus libraries, doing research, that I made it a point to attend late-afternoon Catholic services. It was really then that I became enthralled by the beauty of this small architectural gem.

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