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The Driehaus Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to the University of Chicago to restore and repair the stained glass in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel’s grand south window. Located on the University’s campus in the Hyde Park neighborhood, the medieval style Chapel was built in 1928 and has been a beautiful beacon and important gathering spot not only for the University of Chicago but also for the surrounding South Side communities for almost 100 years.

Restoration of the window is part of a larger University project to repair and restore exterior masonry and other windows on the south half of the nearly century old Chapel and is one of several anticipated restoration projects in the coming years. The restoration demonstrates the University’s commitment to maintain and celebrate the architectural and cultural legacy of the campus while aligning that legacy with the surrounding community. The restoration will ensure that the Chapel continues on as a beautiful anchor for the University of Chicago as well as nearby residents for generations to come.

Rockefeller Chapel was designed by architect Bertram Goodhue and modeled after the cathedrals and historic chapels of the British Isles. It was the final gift to the University of Chicago from benefactor and founder John D. Rockefeller, Sr. who envisioned it would be the “central and dominant feature" of the campus. Located at 5850 S. Woodlawn Avenue, today the Chapel attracts more than 200,000 visitors annually and can seat 1,700 people. It is used for a wide array of purposes serving both the University and surrounding communities including ecumenical worship services, university convocations, guest speakers, musical programs, weddings, memorial services, and occasional film screenings.

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Photo courtesy of Eric Allix Rogers for the Chicago Architecture Center

The stained glass window restoration and repair is currently underway and is expected to be completed by summer 2025. It is an intricate process in which the windows will be removed for off-site restoration and glass replacement. The Chapel’s stained glass windows are known for their distinctive patterns and soft shades of green, blue, and mauve. The pastel colors were chosen to ensure maximum light and minimum distraction from the interior architecture and sculptures in the Chapel.

Throughout 2023, the Foundation has honored the extraordinary legacy of our late founder, Richard H. Driehaus, in the creative and impactful manner he established. Like so many Chicagoans, Richard recognized the majestic beauty and scale of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and appreciated what it meant to the University and surrounding communities.

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