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A rendering of the future placement of Christ Chapel between the Grewcock Student Union and the Dow Leadership Center. Sheila Butler | Courtesy
A ren­dering of the future placement of Christ Chapel between the Grewcock Student Union and the Dow Lead­ership Center. Sheila Butler | Courtesy

Despite original hopes of breaking ground for the new chapel last October, Hillsdale College wants $5 million before beginning con­struction on the $28.6-million building.

Although the college has raised more than $19 million and received pledges toward the 27,000-square-foot Christ Chapel, Chief Admin­is­trative Officer Rich Péwé said he wants the addi­tional funds because of the size of the project and its timeline. Nonetheless, he said he hopes to break ground in June.

“This is a two-year con­struction project,” Péwé said. “So even in the first year, you’re going to have a pretty sig­nif­icant bill closer to $15 million.”

The chapel would enclose the fourth side of the Quad, sitting between the Dow Lead­ership Center and the Grewcock Student Union. It would seat up to 1,300 people. Although the chapel wouldn’t hold regular Sunday ser­vices, it could serve as a place for worship, large-scale con­certs, and all-school events, including grad­u­ation.

Music department chairman James Holleman said he believes the chapel would allow for greater ensemble pos­si­bil­ities in the future.

“Right now, we don’t have a space on campus where we can have the full orchestra and the full choir,” Holleman said. “We’ll be able to fit the full orchestra and the entire choir on stage.”

With its neo­clas­sical archi­tec­tural design, the chapel also presents the oppor­tunity to revive a tra­di­tional style, Péwé said.

“There really hasn’t been a building built like this in the last 60 years, as far as churches go,” Péwé said.

The sooner the college raises the money for the chapel, the sooner it can also look further into some of its other large projects, including ren­o­va­tions in the Searle Center and Knorr Student Center.

Phase two of the Searle Center ren­o­va­tions includes dou­bling the seating capacity of Phillips Audi­torium from 350 to 700 seats. Phase one included rebuilding its dining hall, its kitchen, and its lobby.

“The Phillips Audi­torium ren­o­va­tions that are antic­i­pated, the Searle Center con­struction that was com­pleted, these things are important ways of per­pet­u­ating the college’s mission both inter­nally for our stu­dents and exter­nally for the world in which our stu­dents are oper­ating,” Provost David Whalen said.

Ren­o­va­tions in Knorr include cre­ating a larger career ser­vices office with a  business center. The college would add rooms for inter­views and classes. Addi­tionally, it would open a new café and pub. In near prox­imity to the Dow Center’s hotel, the ren­o­vated space would become friendlier for current stu­dents, vis­iting alumni, cor­porate recruiters, and other vis­itors,  Péwé said.

Although both projects are expected to take one year, no spe­cific con­struction date has been agreed upon, Péwé said. Péwé said he expects the projects to cost approx­i­mately $5 million each. He added that as soon as ade­quate funding is reached, the school plans on moving forward.