History of Stone Chapel

Drury's iconic structure remains Springfield's oldest stone building

Stone Chapel has a wealth of history held within its walls. Once the location of compulsory chapel for Drury students, it now is a favorite location for weddings, VIP receptions, The Open Table events, and a community resource.

The oldest stone structure in Springfield was constructed with donations from East Coast benefactors, Frederick Marguand of New York City and Valerie G. Stone of Malden, Mass. Each gave a lead grant of $5,000 to fund the construction of Stone Chapel. The widow of a wealthy industrialist, Mrs. Stone later gave an additional $20,000. The chapel was named in honor of her.

The cornerstone of Stone Chapel was laid on November 16, 1880, at eleven o'clock, during an unusual Ozarks snowstorm.

The chapel was constructed using local stone quarried from within the Ozarks. However, the Chapel was destroyed by fire on December 12, 1882, before the finishing touches could be completed on the structure. College classes were in session on the first floor of the building when the furnace room exploded into flames. Everyone escaped unharmed, but the building was a complete loss. Residents from across Springfield came to the scene and watched as the tower bell came crashing down.

After researching different possibilities, the Board of Trustees rebuilt the chapel using the original foundation. It took a decade to rebuild Stone Chapel; commencement was held within the chapel in 1892. The historic Chalfant Organ was placed in 1906; it is still used for recitals today. Now one of several structures in Springfield on the National Register of Historic Places, Stone Chapel holds the fond memories of many Springfield residents and Drury graduates.

Details gathered from The Drury Story by Frank W. Clippinger, with Lisa A. Cooper