History of our Chapels

Stone Chapel

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

Diversity Center

Washington Avenue Baptist Church was built in 1885, but its congregation has an even longer history. Its members organized in 1867 and worshiped (as the “ Second Baptist Church [Colored]”) in other locations before moving to Washington Avenue. The church building has been used continuously for church services ever since, and was an important part of Springfield’s thriving, economically successful African-American community.

One of the church’s longest-serving pastors, the Reverend J.S. Dorsey came to the church in 1899 and saw the congregation through pivotal times. In 1904 he led the way as the congregation changed its name from “Second Baptist” to “Washington Avenue Baptist.” A second cornerstone was laid at the northeast corner of the building to commemorate the change. In 1906 Rev. Dorsey helped his congregation cope with the lynching of three men on the Public Square, a dismal turning point in Springfield’s African-American history. And on November 30, 1911, Rev. Dorsey was leading a Thanksgiving Day service when the church caught fire and suffered significant damage. Rebuilding the church brought forth visible signs of the community’s support.

Recently moved to allow growth of the Drury University campus, workers “unbuilt” the historic church, saving the old bricks, stained glass, pews, doors, windows and steeple. Even the church’s distinctive neon sign was preserved. The church was rebuilt around a new skeleton on a new site just 200 feet from where it once stood.

From the Springfield Convention and Visitor's Bureau