Gunnison Memorial Chapel Renovations Underway

Renovations to St. Lawrence University’s Gunnison Memorial Chapel are currently underway, and the University’s goal is to have the chapel reopened for Commencement 2015.

Daniel Seaman, chief facilities officer for the University, explained that several projects will take place over the next year to restore the chapel to its original condition.

“We’ve identified a total of 14 projects, many of which will be condensed and awarded as single projects,” Seaman said. “The two biggest pieces – the bell tower and the spire – have yet to be awarded, but I’d say by mid-July we’ll decide who to award the contracts to.”

View a photo gallery of renovations

A fire on Oct. 6, 2013 destroyed Gunnison's spire and caused significant damage to the bell tower. Water and smoke further damaged many other areas of the chapel.

The University has selected one company to clean the chapel and repaint the walls. Another company was selected to restore and replace the chapel pews. The sanctuary pews have already been removed and are being restored offsite, while the balcony pews will be restored onsite.

Seaman said the University has taken its time finding a suitable company to work on the steeple’s spire, which toppled 24 hours after the fire first broke out.

“We really want to focus on the coppersmith work because we want to restore the spire and even the rooster weathervane to be an exact replica of the original,” he said.

The largest contract will be for restoration of the bell tower, which will need some structural repairs. In addition, a specialized company is still being sought to assess the condition of the Bacheller Memorial Chime and make any necessary repairs.

The University is also taking advantage of the chapel being closed to compete two projects that had been identified prior to last year’s fire, which include installation of an ADA-compliant bathroom on the first floor and replacing some of the stained glass windows.

“I’m very happy with the progress we’re making,” Seaman said, “and I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to repair and restore the bell tower and spire to just how they looked prior to the fire.”