After nine months of construction, students were welcomed back into the Chapel for Ring Ceremony.
The Chapel, the physical and spiritual center of Duchesne, has recently undergone extensive restoration and now stands as a testament to the legacy of the RSCJ and the vision of renowned architect Thomas Rogers Kimball.
Brother William Woeger, a celebrated expert on liturgical design, served as the architectural and design consultant for the project. Woeger, who has spent a lifetime studying the work of Kimball, was determined to maintain the integrity of the original design. Kimball was enshrined in the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 2019 and is considered the best architect from Nebraska.
“As a devotee of Thomas Rogers Kimball, I’m always passionate about the spirit of his design intent always remains prominent if somebody is going to do any work on a Kimball building,” Woeger said.
“So, we were kind of asking ourselves this question, ‘What would ‘TRK’ do if he was still working today?’”
Head of School Meg Brudney understood the Chapel’s significance as the centerpiece of the campus where the past and the present come together.
“There was no question when we started this campaign that the chapel was going to be the first thing that we were going to preserve,” Brudney said.
“There is something about this chapel that when you come into it you feel safe, you feel loved, you feel a sense of community, and that has been something that has been [consistent] over the years an experience for all who come to Duchesne.”
Duchesne worked with BVH Architects and MCL Construction to design and complete the work. The project included expanding pews to increase seating capacity, repairing and restoring the stations of the cross, adding a new altar, ambo, presider’s chair, along with upgrading the lighting and sound systems. The sacristy and antechamber were remodeled and a new restroom and storage space were added.
The restoration project paid homage to the original design, with Woeger taking pains to ensure that the new elements aligned with Kimball’s style.
“What we tried to do was go back and consider what the Victorian schemes were. And we would never go back to that level of detail necessarily, but we wanted it to be evocative of that,” Woeger said.
The result is breathtaking. The new lighting and restored plasterwork, along with gold leaf detailing, highlight the intricate details of the stained-glass windows, stations of the cross, and original architecture.
“All of a sudden you see these gorgeous stained-glass windows differently. You see them anew. Even some of the architecture that is not necessarily religious, but beautiful that also highlighted so you really begin to see the detail that went into making this such a stunning chapel,” Brudney said.
The restoration project was more than just an effort to preserve the past; it was a statement of Duchesne’s commitment to its students, community, and history.