On Wednesday, the committee for the renovation of Dahlgren Chapel released specific plans for the improvement of the building, which include moving the baptismal font close to the opening of the church and placing the tabernacle in better view of parishioners. The project would make acoustic and aesthetic improvements to the chapel while responding to changes in ideas about church design.
The Office of Mission and Ministry formed the committee last year after a piece of plaster fell from the church’s ceiling, indicating to that the building’s foundation was less sturdy than previously thought. After a $6 million donation from the Rooney Foundation, repairs to the structure’s base started late last year. In the process, the committee is seeking another $2 million from donations for internal improvements to the sanctuary.
Principal architect Sean Reilly presented the plan as dependent on the amount of money donated by alumni. “The plan we’re going to show you today represents … everything we’d like to do, and the wish-list will be fine-tuned based on the results of fundraising,” he said.
The chapel’s organ, which is presently located at the back of the seating area, will be moved to either side of the wall behind the altar, next to the choir. The organ was donated 30 years ago, and has not been well maintained. “Other organs built by that builder in the eighties have not lasted,” Fr. Kevin O’Brien said. According to Reilly, moving the organ will increase seating by 25 to 30 percent.
O’Brien responded to concerns from members of the choir that the tabernacle and the organ would reduce choir space. They assured the members that, since the altar would be moving forward, the choir would still have sufficient space.
According to O’Brien, the project’s timeline is still unclear. The project will start once fundraising is met. According to Regina Bleck, Assistant Vice President of Planning and Project Management, the project will presumably be done sometime in the spring of 2013. The chapel will largely remain open throughout renovations.