Our History

Hendricks Chapel is a gift from Senator Francis Hendricks, former Syracuse mayor and long-time Syracuse University trustee.

Senator Hendricks made provisions for the Chapel in 1920, and construction began in January 1929. Pope and Baum, a New York architectural firm, designed the brick and limestone structure in a style that traces back to the work of 16th-century Italian architect Palladio and to the Roman Pantheon.

Hendricks Chapel was completed and opened its doors in September 1930.  At a dedication ceremony a month later the Senator’s niece, Miss Kathryn Hendricks, donated the original organ.

September 2015 marked the celebration of 85 years as the centerpiece of campus. The Chapel has seen the University change from a private, relatively small, relatively homogeneous Methodist-related academy to the very large, heterogeneous, secular, private University it is today. Even so, the Chapel has been an experiment in diversity from the beginning. Senator Hendricks called for a Chapel honoring his wife Eliza that would serve all faiths. Accordingly, the architects used Greek and Roman themes in creating a space remarkable for its ambiance of sanctuary but almost completely without specific religious symbol. A worship center, still in use, has the flexibility to be used by any religious group wishing to do so, or as a backdrop for an academic or secular speech.

The style of operation of the Chapel has changed dramatically over the years. Even so, the focus on diversity, the emphasis on the importance of the spiritual aspects of life and its function as a religious, social, cultural and intellectual gathering place have marked its history and its present.

Hendricks Chapel in the Syracuse University Archives

The Hendricks Chapel Records span from 1936 to 1999 and consist of materials related to the Chapel’s operations. The collection includes sermons, memorial service materials, guest speaker files, lectures, audio reels, fabric banners and other materials related to programs, events, committees, and organizations, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee and Muslim Life at Syracuse University.