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Willard-Chapel Image


17 Nelson Street
Auburn, NY 13021

Phone: (315) 252-0339


Willard Memorial Chapel and the adjoining Welch Memorial Building are the only remaining buildings which were once part of the Auburn Theological Seminary, an educational facility which prepared thousands of pastors and missionaries to travel near and far to spread the word of God.

The seminary had its origin in the great revivals of religion that swept through the new settlements early in the 19th century and the resulting demand for ministers of the gospel. A proposal to establish a seminary in Auburn was made in January, 1818 by Rev. Dirck Cornelius Lansing, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Auburn. The seminary was founded later that year, chartered in 1820 and then admitted its first students in 1821.

The original seminary building was erected in 1820–21 and demolished in 1892—the same year in which the cornerstone of the Willard Chapel was laid. In 1872, the Dodge-Morgan Library building was erected and followed by a 76-room dormitory, Morgan Hall, which was completed in 1875. Both of these buildings were demolished by 1959.

In 1892–1894, the Willard Chapel was built and furnished in memory of Dr. Sylvester Willard and his wife, Mrs. Jane Frances Case Willard, by their daughters Miss Georgiana and Miss Caroline Willard. The interior of the Chapel was designed and handcrafted entirely by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York City. It is the only complete and unaltered totally Tiffany designed religious interior known to exist in the world.