The Architecture of the Kirkpatrick Chapel

By, John, Sanan, Andrew

The Kirkpatrick Chapel was built in memory of Sophia Astley Kirkpatrick, wife of Littleton Kirkpatrick, trustee of Rutgers College. Henry Hardenburgh was the designer of the chapel, Grandson of the first President of Rutgers Jacob Hardenburgh. He went on to have a successful building career, and this was at the forefront of it. The Chapel was first designed to be used as both a library and for education and for¬†worshipping purposes, until another Dutch building was built, Voorhees Hall, and the Chapel expanded it religious space in full. In 1916 around the 150th anniversary Henry Hardenburgh made expansions and renovations to further accommodate Rutgers student worship. He added a new chancel, two properly designed organ chambers, and a new stained glass window named, “Jesus, the teacher of ages” in memory of the first Rutgers President. The Chapel may be in America, but it is certainly Dutch, not just for the historical reasons but especially for its looks.

When we begin to look specifically at the architecture of the Kirkpatrick Chapel, we see the many similarities it has with Churches in The Netherlands. The Kirkpatrick Chapel features a design of tall and high center with two smaller triangles supporting it. This other Church, Grote of St Laurenskerk Rotterdam, was constructed in the Netherlands hundreds of years before the Kirkpatrick Chapel, but still features the same design. A high and tall center, with smaller triangles on the side supporting it. Both churches also include windows that are  elongated in an ovular fashion. The Grote of St Laurenskerk Rotterdam was the first stone Church constructed in the Netherlands. The Kirkpatrick Chapel was also constructed from the finest brownstone.

grote of st laurenskerk rotterdam
grote of St Laurenskerk Rotterdam,

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grote of St Laurenskerk Rotterdam, 51.921435, 4.484906

As there are Dutch chapels with similar exteriors as that of the Kirkpatrick Chapel in New Jersey, there are also Dutch chapels with almost identical interiors as that of the Kirkpatrick Chapel as well. An example of such a chapel is the Dimnent Chapel located in Holland. Like many Dutch chapels and holy areas, there are large rows of seats for subscribed worshipers, although what significantly links the interiors of the Dimnent Chapel and the Kirkpatrick Chapel, are the large stained glass windows and the tent-like architectural design of both chapels. In terms of the windows, both chapels sport numerous stain glass windows – one large window in the front, and numerous smaller ones on the sides, all with significant religious or important figures designed into them. The general interior shape of both chapels are similar as well, as both chapels are substantially smaller in size than most Dutch chapels, with inclined ceilings and beams. Even the ceiling framing and support are visually linked, as in both chapels, they are wooden, and tread the direction of the ceiling to the side walls. Although there are many similarities between the interior designs of the Dimnent Chapel and the Kirkpatrick Chapel, it is evidently apparent that the Kirkpatrick Chapel contains large white beams used to support the weight of the ceiling and the secondary wall linings while the Dimnent Chapel, does not.

dimnent chapel

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dimnent chapel 48.216038, 16.378984

Works Cited