AMHERST, Mass. – The two-year, $21 million renovation of the historic Old Chapel at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has earned a commendation from the Victorian Society in America for the university’s “comprehensive exterior restoration and adaptive use of the interior.”
The Old Chapel reopened in February as a multi-purpose facility following an 18-year closure due to structural deterioration. The 1885 Richardsonian Romanesque building “was the subject of a thoughtful planning process to find a contemporary use for the structure while preserving as much of the original architectural fabric as possible,” notes the society. “The goal was admirably accomplished by the subsequent rehabilitation that has met the highest standards of conservation practice.”
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015, the renovated Old Chapel has improved structural integrity, a modern accessible entrance and elevator and a new basement kitchen. The top floor provides a large open space for performances and lectures and will be available for weddings and similar events. The first floor provides a flexible layout for displays and events and will serve as a general campus resource.
The award will be presented on Oct. 7 in New York City.
Based in Philadelphia, the Victorian Society in America was formed in 1966 and is the only national, non-profit organization committed to historic preservation, protection, understanding, education and enjoyment of the nation’s 19th century heritage.