Built in the late 1930’s and dedicated in 1939, the Clarke Chapel would become a prominent building among its surrounding community. Located on 700 College Pl, Williamsport, PA 17701, the Clarke Chapel built on Lycoming College’s campus has been used for multiple venues and occasions making it a significant space for a multitude of people. The Clarke Chapel third floor which has the capacity of seating 600 people has held numerous choir concerts, band concerts, theater performances, religious services, student lead activities, and an annual candlelight service which has been held there for over 50 years. The second floor has historically been used as a cafeteria for the college and now is used for the Music department’s classrooms and offices. This building has gone through many renovations and has held multiple events yet still today keeps many traditions alive for the Williamsport and Lycoming College community which is significant to the audiences who visit and participate in these events.
Backstory and Context
The creation of the Clarke Chapel during the late 1930’s was primary due to the generous donations of Martha B. Clarke, the largest benefactor of the building. Her contribution towards the Williamsport Dickinson Seminary and Junior College resulted in the creation of the chapel. The itself was erected & dedicated in 1939 as stated above. It was three floors all have which have been changed and renovated over the past years. Also, the third floor known as the upper chapel has not changed its use as a multi-purpose room since its creation in 1939 and is stated to hold an occupancy of 600 people. Evidence of this is the wooden pews that reside in the upper chapel which are from the original building. Lastly, the bell tower positioned on the corner closest to where Old Main (the largest building that used to hold all classes on campus from 1812 - 1968) used to stand, is a replica of the three bell towers that Old Main possessed which is a perfect representation of the area’s past.
In it’s past, the chapel’s internal architecture has changed drastically from it’s current use. A video recorded in the 1940’s, showcased the facilities that the chapel provided at the time. There was a kitchen on the east end and a dining area on the west end of the second floor, the basement was primarily storage and extra space for a multitude of activities, and the third floor was the performance and service chapel. These rooms over the 20th century would be renovated to what the college has deemed as the current music and performance chapel building. As of today, the basement consists of music practice rooms, the second floor is music classrooms and an office area for music personnel, and the third floor is still the chapel as it has been since the building’s creation.
As stated above, the Clarke Chapel is located on 700 College Pl, Williamsport, PA 17701, more precisely known as the building along the south side of the quad and this location has provided numerous services and events for the community. The community involvement in this historic building ranges from weddings, to music and band performances from college students and musicians, theater performances, student lead activities, educational classes, and annual services such as the candlelight service provided by Lycoming College’s choir. All these events signify what influence this place has on the community that utilizes it’s facilities. As the student president of the Lycoming College Choir stated in an oral interview, “The chapel serves as an outlet for students to get away, to strive for their musical interests and enjoy their freedom from any kind of audience. It is a place to just breath and think.”
Many people have used the Clarke Chapel as a place to think. The couples who choose to intertwine their lives together by vows, do this. The choir and band performances that reenacts history and stir emotions from the audience and themselves, does this. A student who strives to create and love music no matter their professional goal or level of experience in music, does this. All these people come together to this one place to help identify themselves and reflect on who they’re by simply thinking. A place with that kind of influence must be important to the surrounding community for it holds memories that have lasted for almost a century concluding that the Clarke Chapel is truly a place that relishes in history and tradition translating it’s significance to the community that utilizes its space.
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