On-campus chapel breaks ground

Rendering courtesy of MSA Architects | The new Our Lady of Peace Chapel will be transported from the Williams family estate in Anderson Township. The Williams family, for whom the Williams College of Business is named, is donating the structure in its entirety that has been sitting on their property for over 100 years.

The ground broke for the Our Lady of Peace Chapel relocation project last week after nearly two years of planning. The existing structure is being uprooted from the Williams’ family property in Anderson Township and reconstructed at the end of the academic mall between Schott and Edgecliff halls. Both the Williams family, which was responsible for funding Xavier’s Williams College of Business, and the critical donors responsible for Bellarmine Chapel were devout Catholics. The Our Lady of Peace Chapel was built on the family’s property in the 1910’s but has not been in use. The chapel was used as a private space of devotion for the Williams family as well as the site for family weddings and baptisms through most of the 20th century. Thomas Williams approached Father Michael Graham, president, in December 2015, wanting to donate the chapel to the university to preserve the historic structure.

According to Vice President of Physical Plant Robert Sheeran, the creation of Physical Plant’s master plans “don’t happen in a vacuum.” The 2005 Master Plan was constructed by a committee within Physical Plant that drew upon feedback from alumni, students, donors and community members who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the campus.

The project falls in line with two main parts of the 2005 Master Plan: to create a collection of memorable spaces on campus and to make Xavier a walkable campus.
Sheeran aspires to create the charming chapel and adjoining cottage garden as not only a memorable space, but also refers to the future chapel as a “jewel box” on campus — something that draws attention, especially from prospective students and families walking out of Schott Hall. The sidewalks on Dana on either side of what was Herald Avenue will be connected, increasing campus accessibility. The remaining area that used to be Herald Avenue will be covered with grass, increasing the amount of green space on Xavier’s campus.

The structure will not only be reconstructed on campus, but elements of the small 22- seat chapel will be restored, such as the stained glass windows that have been removed.

The Our Lady of Peace Chapel will also be the university’s first geothermal building on campus.

Vehicle traffic will not be affected on Dana Avenue as Physical Plant works to reroute sewer and electrical lines to bring the 100 year old chapel up to modern building code standards.

The reconstruction of the chapel is projected to finish in June of 2018, with a dedication shortly after.

By: Heather Gast ~Guest Writer~