Willard Memorial Chapel – the Tiffany Treasure of the Finger Lakes

Have been remiss in reporting on my visit to the Willard Chapel. Here is a bit of its history, but, to get the most information visit the Chapel web site https://www.willard-chapel.com/, and if you ever get a chance to visit – it is a must see. They also offer weddings in this Tiffany treasure. These weddings must be a stunning site and the cost reasonable.

Let’s start with the history of this amazing Chapel.

The daughters of industrialists Sylvester and Jane Frances Case Willard, had the Chapel built in memory of their parents at a cost of $50,000. in 1892, (constructed from 1892-1894). In today’s monies this would be $2 million, which is now the worth of one of the 14 Tiffany windows. The windows are protected on the outside with glass.

The Chapel and its decor is modern.

Some of the signature Tiffany green glass

The complex surrounding the Chapel was built in 1821 when there was a need for trained ministers. There were 76 students at the time who paid $1 a week for food and $5 for utilities monthly. By 1930, this rose to $6.5 board and $50 utilities. By 1939, the seminary was abandoned and transferred to NYC Union Seminary. After this time the buildings were used for Army training and later apartments for returning vets. By 1959, the seminary buildings were mostly demolished and others purchased the buildings, one being the 7th Day Adventists. When the Adventists decided to sell others proposed purchasing the Chapel for a bowling alley and/or disco. Recognizing the need to maintain this piece of history the community came to the rescue and bought the property.

Currently, the Chapel is undergoing a $5 million renovation project.

The Pulpit

The pews and flooring were designed by Tiffany. Each square of flooring was hand laid by women from the area.

Tiffany Lanterns

Tiffany designed chairs

This stained glass is a representation of Christ and St. Peter on the Sea of Gailee with the side panels the tree of life. There is no color in the glass, nor painting of glass. Tiffany technique used layering of glass to create color. Jesus in this Tiffany work was made to resemble Tiffany’s father. Tiffany never visited the Chapel, and the work was created and managed by Jacob Adolphus Holzer, with assist by Clara Driscoll, a Tiffany manager who managed the elite group known as the Tiffany girls.

The theme of the Chapel is faith, hope, and charity, but the greatest is love.

All in the Chapel is Tiffany except the organ. The Chapel is a National Historic Landmark.

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