Fifty years after Snidow Chapel was erected on the University of Lynchburg campus, the chapel and its organ are receiving a makeover.
Earlier this month, college staff and contractors began demolition work inside the chapel. This week, representatives from the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas, began dismantling parts of the organ. Hundreds of pieces of the organ will be taken to Kansas for repair and then reinstalled later this summer.
The chapel renovations center on the chancel. A new cloth will be hung behind the latticework that wraps around the chancel, and new choir pews will be installed in a more useful configuration. Two fixed rostrums will be made movable.
The organ console will also be upgraded to make it more versatile. A single fiber optic cable will replace a multitude of cables that formerly connected the console to the system that controls the valves. This will allow the console to moved to suite a wider variety of purposes, making organists more visible during recitals or putting the console out of the way during events when the organ is not in use.
“It will give us so many more opportunities to use that space for worship as well as music,” said Stephanie McLemore, chaplain and director of Church Relations.
Other changes will include new tile under the pews and carpet in the chapel, which will improve acoustics by reducing echoes.
The organ is an American Eclectic style pipe organ with more than 3,000 pipes. It was installed shortly after the chapel was built in 1966. The organ renovation is addressing numerous repairs that will preserve the instrument’s quality and dependability as well as reduce long-term maintenance costs.
Last year, Betty Hawkins Arrington ’64 and her husband, Larry R. Arrington ’71 made a $100,000 gift to jump-start fundraising on the $225,000 chapel and organ renovation project. To date, the College has raised about $190,000. Gifts can be made at https://www.connect.lynchburg.edu/organ.
The renovations will be complete in time for a series of concerts to celebrate the chapel’s 50th anniversary. The events are listed on the College’s online public calendar.