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Inside The Storied Past Of The Duke Chapel

State of Things Host Frank Stasio hosts a broadcast at the Duke Chapel on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 to commemorate the chapel's reopening.
Duke Photography
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State of Things Host Frank Stasio hosts a broadcast at the Duke Chapel on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 to commemorate the chapel's reopening.

Duke University has reopened the iconic chapel at the center of its Durham campus after a $19 million renovation.

Crews have been working for a year to restore the limestone walls and ceiling that define the chapel's Gothic architecture. 

Rodney Wynkoop conducts the Duke Chapel Choir during the chapel's reopening celebration on May 11, 2016.
Credit Duke Photography
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Rodney Wynkoop conducts the Duke Chapel Choir during the chapel's reopening celebration on May 11, 2016.

In a special broadcast at Duke Chapel, university archivist Valerie Gillispie told WUNC’s "The State of Things" the chapel has served as an institutional icon at Duke for nearly 90 years.

“It has been the site of demonstrations,” Gillespie said. “Following Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968, there was a very large silent vigil for about four days where students came out both in an act of mourning and in support of hourly laborers on campus.”

The year-long renovation is the first major restoration since the chapel opened in the 1930s. 

attendees at the reopening of Duke Chapel
Credit Duke Photography
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More than 300 people attended a special broadcast of "The State of Things" on Wednesday, May 11 to commemorate the reopening of Duke Chapel.

Duke Chapel Dean Reverend Luke Powery said he hopes the reopening continues the chapel's original mission of helping students, faculty and broader community “think about the integration of our intellectual lives and our spiritual lives,” he said.

The building’s architecture has helped many preachers over the years embody the sermon and offer “a window into deeper realities,” Powery said.

“Architecture does influence the liturgy, does influence preaching,” Powery said. “The embodiment of that sermon is definitely impacted by the space in which you preach.”

MORE PHOTOS:

Attendees of a special broadcast of "The State of Things" at the reopening of Duke Chapel on May 11, 2016.
Credit Duke Photography
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Attendees fill the pews during a special broadcast of "The State of Things" at the reopening of Duke Chapel on May 11, 2016.
Conductor Rodney Wynkoop leads the Duke Chapel Choir during the chapel's reopening ceremony on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.
Credit Duke Photography
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Conductor Rodney Wynkoop leads the Duke Chapel Choir during the chapel's reopening ceremony on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.
Members of the Duke Choir, conducted by Rodney Wynkoop, during the reopening of Duke Chapel on May 11, 2016.
Credit Duke Photography
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Members of the Duke Choir, conducted by Rodney Wynkoop, during the reopening of Duke Chapel on May 11, 2016.
Members of the Duke Chapel Choir perform during the reopening of the chapel on May 11, 2016.
Credit Duke Photography
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Members of the Duke Chapel Choir perform during the reopening of the chapel on May 11, 2016.

Photographs of The Duke Chapel throughout history

DUKE CHAPEL FACTS:

Built: 1930-1932

Dedicated: 1935

Special features: vaulted ceilings, woodwork, stained-glass windows

Construction costs: $19 million in funding from endowment in 1924-1925, which is about $300 million today

Notable speakers: Howard Thurman and Desmond Tutu

Architecture influenced by chapels at other university campuses, including Princeton and the University of Chicago

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.
Will Michaels is WUNC's General Assignment Reporter and fill-in host for "Morning Edition"
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
Elizabeth “Liz” Baier is WUNC’s Digital News Editor. She joined the station in May 2016.
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